- Walmart is extending support for mothers who are breastfeeding, installing Mamava lactation suites in more than 100 Walmart stores this year for both employees and customers, according to an Aug. 25 announcement. Walmart is reportedly the first retailer to install in-store Mamava pods. The expansion of in-store access follows a pilot in three Walmart stores last year.
- Tennille Webb, a Walmart associate and new mother, discovered a Mamava pod while traveling. Webb then advocated to bring the pods to Walmart stores, according to the company. The pods are freestanding spaces that provide a private option to breastfeed or pump. An app guides users to a pod's location and then opens the pod. There is no cost to use the pods, according to Walmart.
- Walmart currently has spaces designated for breastfeeding or pumping referred to as mother's rooms in several hundred stores, according to the retailer. The Mamava pods will be placed in select stores without such a room.
Keeping the rights of nursing mothers top of mind may be key for employers seeking to improve retention. A survey of 1,389 working mothers conducted in May and June by Mamava and Medela found that the majority (87%) plan to continue breastfeeding or pumping when they return to the workplace.
However, many who seek support from employers often don't receive it. About 68% of respondents in a survey of more than 2,000 working mothers said the most difficult pumping challenges were lack of time to pump while at work or the stress of pumping enough at work. The report, released by Medela, Mamava and Milk Stork in March also found that less than half (40%) of respondents said they had a dedicated lactation space or room with a locking door. And less than a third (28%) said the space available was comfortable.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was amended by the Affordable Care Act to include a requirement providing break time for nursing mothers. The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has intervened when a company does not comply with the law. For example, Bank of America agreed to make workplace changes in August after a WHD investigation prompted the department to allege that a Tucson, Arizona, branch did not provide reasonable break time and a space for a nursing mother to express breast milk free from intrusion. The agreement applied to all of Bank of American's locations. The physical changes within the banks will take place over several years, starting with Arizona, according to WHD.
Employees have also filed lawsuits alleging violations. Noel Hendrix, a cashier at a Chipotle in Arizona, filed a class action complaint in August against the company. Hendrix claimed that managers discriminated against her on the basis of sex in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act when they allegedly refused her request to pump breast milk during her shifts.