A federal district court in Iowa recently held, in Salz v. Casey's Marketing Company, that a former employee cannot maintain a lawsuit under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") for an employer's failure to provide reasonable break time and a private space to express breast milk, but that retaliation claims relating to complaints concerning lactation rights may proceed in court. As previously reported, employers with 50 or more employees must provide reasonable break times and a private space for mothers to express milk for one year following a child's birth. In Salz, a former employee alleged that her employer failed to provide a secure and private place to express milk and discharged her after she complained. The court dismissed the claim for violation of lactation rights, holding that an employee may only pursue such a claim by filing a complaint with the United States Department of Labor. However, the Salz court held that the former employee's retaliation claim could proceed in court, as contemplated by the FLSA's anti-retaliation provision.
This decision serves as an important reminder that employers should review their policies and practices with respect to break time requested by nursing mothers. In addition, employers should ensure that they do not retaliate in any way against employees who request such break time.