April 24, 2000 (New York) -- There is little legal protection currently available for women who wish to pump breast milk at work. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) has introduced a bill that would extend the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 -- which was meant to protect women from being fired or discriminated against for pregnancy-related conditions -- to cover breastfeeding and related activities to women on the job. "It's meant to ensure that a woman who needs to take lactation breaks while working can't be fired or harassed for it," says Maloney's spokeswoman Nicole Harburger.
In addition to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act Amendment of 2000, Maloney has also filed two other lactation-related bills. One would amend the federal tax code to provide tax incentives to companies that set up lactation programs. The other bill sets minimum standards for the safety and effectiveness of breast pumps. All three bills are expected to be considered during the current legislative session and have "high prospects" of passing before the end of the year, says Harburger.
Eileen Garred is a senior editor at Child magazine. She lives in New York City and has one daughter.