Illinois has previously provided protections for pregnant women in the workplace. For example, the Illinois Human Rights Act has expressly recognized pregnancy as a protected personal characteristic. But now, with the passage of an amendment to the Illinois Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act (the “Act”), Illinois has increased the rights of nursing mothers in the workplace.

Beginning in 2001, Illinois law required employers to provide nursing mothers unpaid lactation breaks in the workplace. But, in its original form, the Act only required “reasonable unpaid break time each day” with those breaks to be, if possible, to be at the same time as regularly scheduled breaks.

As of August 21, 2018, the Act has been amended to the benefit of working mothers. For example, the word “unpaid” has been removed from the Act and the law makes clear that any lactation breaks “may not reduce an employee’s compensation.” Further, the breaks “may” be set at the same time as regularly scheduled breaks, but they are not required to be. Finally, the paid lactation breaks must be provided to women for a minimum of one year after the child’s birth. Prior to the amendment, the Act did not set any minimum timeframe for the previously unpaid breaks.

These amendments provided important and expanded protections for nursing women in the workplace. If your employer is not providing paid lactation breaks for you for at least a year after the birth of your child, you may have a legal claim. If you believe your employer is not complying with the Act or other laws designed to protect pregnant or nursing women, you need an experienced employment lawyer to help you evaluate your potential claims and options.

Ethan White and Emery Law have more than a decade of pure litigation experience, primarily focusing on employee-side employment disputes, including pregnancy discrimination. We have near daily courtroom experience in both state and federal courts. We have tried cases in DuPage County, Cook County, and the Northern District of Illinois and have litigated matters in nearly every other county in the Chicagoland area. We’ve worked for federal judges and trained at the biggest law firms in the world, but our small-firm approach ensures that our clients get the individual attention they deserve without the expensive overhead. We look forward to working with you.