- Two former Dollar General workers filed a collective-action lawsuit against the company Sept. 29 for allegedly violating the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers (PUMP) Act. The employees said Dollar General refused to give them breaks or private places to pump milk at work, instead forcing them to use “unsanitary” stockrooms or restrooms. “It is what it is,” a manager told one of the workers when she complained about being told to pump in her hot car or an unlocked stockroom.
- The collective-action lawsuit may include any nonexecutive Dollar General employees who were lactating since Dec. 29, 2022, and were not given breaks or a sanitary, private space to pump during the first year after their child’s birth. Dollar General did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
- “Instead of supporting breastfeeding mothers, Dollar General’s practices forced those mothers into a Hobson’s choice between using demeaning, unsanitary spaces to express milk, abandoning pumping at work altogether or quitting their jobs,” the complaint alleged. “Congress clearly declared in the PUMP Act that no mother should have to make such a choice.”
The PUMP Act, which went into effect in April, extends protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act and ups enforcement and relief actions. The law requires employers to provide “a reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk” for a year after the child’s birth in “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public.”
Dollar General “failed and continues to fail to provide proper accommodations to its nursing employees for minimum appropriate break times and space to express breast milk in private,” the lawsuit reads. “Dollar General’s failure to provide sufficient lactation accommodations is a systemic issue that has impacted employees at locations throughout the country.”
Since the PUMP Act went into effect, collective-action lawsuits have cropped up across the country. In July, three U.S. Postal Service workers alleged the employer forced workers to pump in break rooms with co-workers present and in a dark and hot space in the back of a mail truck.
To comply with the PUMP Act, some companies offer lactation pods, which are private, portable units akin to a portable toilet that often have a sink and a refrigerator.