Why a Bathroom Just Won't Do
You have invited a potential client to your office. This person has the potential to do a lot of business with you bringing in a substantial amount to your bottom line. The office is looking it’s best, everyone is in a good mood, your presentation is going well and now it’s time for lunch. But you don’t take her to the best restaurant in town, you don’t even take her to the local fast food place down the road, no you show them to the bathroom and say enjoy! You would never do that, and if you did any good you had built up during the day is now gone. She would probably leave on the spot and never come back.
This is what we intentionally or unintentional say to our female employees that need to pump at work to feed their babies breastmilk. They to help to bring a substantial amount to your businesses bottom line but they are being asked to make food for their child in the bathroom, and somehow that is OK. Now, you may say what’s the big deal? Well the big deal is that when a toilet is flushed, a “aerosolized feces” into the air. This plume can go up to 15 feet in the air. Now it doesn’t just fall right back down it spreads through out the space landing on counters, floors and other surfaces. If someone is forced to pump in a stall and others are using the stalls around her, she is exposing her baby to milk that could be contaminated with aerosolized feces. No one would want to feed that to their baby.
Now if this information still hasn’t convinced you that a bathroom just won’t due for a woman to pump in, I want to bring up the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It specifically calls out that for employers of 50 or more employees they must provide “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.” It also should go without saying a Janitors closet, electrical closet, or storage room are also equally inappropriate as they typically are not free from intrusion. A woman is providing food for her child, it isn’t gross, it is what her body was designed to do. If that is how she chose to feed her baby that should not be regarded with disgust. You may not like it or agree and I understand that but respect for her decision is what is being asked for.
Providing a space does not need to be expensive. If a co-worker is not using their office, she could use that if both parties are open to the idea, I have modified a former closet to be a beautiful Lactation space. A space could be set up for all employees to use when there are no moms currently pumping so your investment gets more use. These little spaces can show your employees how much they are valued, they can save you money and time, and they can set you apart as an employer of choice.