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Federal Workplace Law

What does the undue hardship exemption mean for employees?

All employers, regardless of their size or number of employees, must comply with the "Break Time for Nursing Mothers" law.

Following a complaint filed with the Department of Labor from a breastfeeding employee, the Wage and Hour Division launches an investigation. During the investigation, businesses with fewer than 50 employees may be able to apply for an undue hardship exemption. To receive an exemption for that employee, the employer must prove that providing these accommodations would cause "significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to the size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the employer's business."

The employer must prove that complying with the law is significantly difficult after each complaint. Unless they do that, and until they are granted an exemption, they must comply with the law. Because there are examples of innovative, inexpensive solutions for every industry, earning an undue hardship exemption may be challenging for businesses. There are no exemptions for employers with more than 50 employees.

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