Do you want a lawsuit with your burger? Lawsuit Against McDonalds for Violations of PUMP Act.

Mathew Moldawer
Mathew Moldawer

Two McDonald’s employees, with other similarly situated employees, filed a lawsuit on February 14, 2024 against McDonald’s USA, LLC, MBM Management, Harold T. Clark, LLC, and ABC Corporations, alleging violations of the PUMP Act in the federal district court of Illinois.  The lawsuit alleged that the two employees were told they would be provided accommodations afforded under the PUMP Act to express breast milk but were not provided adequate time to pump nor adequate space to do so.  The employees claim that, as a result, they experienced “embarrassment, anguish, personal hardship, anxiety, humiliation, and emotional distress.”

The Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act (PUMP Act) was enacted in December 2022 and expanded the protections for nursing mothers to express breast milk at work.  The Act requires employers to provide; (1) reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for their nursing child for up to one year after the child’s birth; and (2) a place to pump at work, other than a restroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public.  The time the employee takes to express breast milk is not paid, except when the employee is not completely relieved of their duty for the entirety of the break.  Employers with less than 50 employees are exempt from the Act, and crew members of air carriers are not covered.   Motorcoach and rail carriers may be subject to the Act depending on the employee’s position.

The law also implemented an enforcement mechanism under § 216(b), stating “Any employer who violates the provisions of section 15(a)(3) or 18D of this Act [29 USCS §§ 215(a)(3) or 218d] shall be liable for such legal or equitable relief as may be appropriate…”  An employee may bring a private action against an employer for violations of the PUMP Act, and seek appropriate remedies.  The Department of Labor has provided Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2023-02, Enforcement of Protections for Employees to Pump Breast Milk At Work.  

                In the lawsuit, the employees assert McDonald’s had an “affirmative duty…to provide a clean, secure space” but instead placed the employees “into a Hobson’s choice between using demeaning, unsanitary space to express milk, abandoning pumping at work all together, or quitting their jobs.”  One of the named plaintiffs, Ms. Faber, alleged she had to pump in the stockroom or in a bathroom.  The other named plaintiff, Ms. Mays, alleged she had to pump in a back office that had no door.  Both alleged they were provided with one thirty-minute period to pump and otherwise had to do so whenever they could – sometimes not pumping at all due to inadequate staffing.

                This case comes just a few weeks after a similar lawsuit was filed in the federal district court in Ohio against fast-food chain Wendy’s.  The PUMP Act creates additional employer obligations, and employers need to be prepared to comply with PUMP Act requirements, unless they fall under one of the exemptions.   As always, consultation with an employment attorney is advisable to avoid running afoul of the PUMP Act.

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