DISH’s new accommodations for nursing mothers send the right message
When I became pregnant with my son in 2010, I had no idea what parenthood had in store for me or how my little guy would enrich my life. I did however know that there was one thing that I wanted to provide my son that only I could: breast milk. With the encouragement of my family, friends, and former employer, I was able to provide my son with the benefit of having breast milk while I was away at work. I consider myself lucky to have had the network of support to tackle one of motherhood’s greatest challenges.
Sadly, there are many nursing mothers across the country that do not receive the adequate support from their employers to continue breastfeeding their babies once they return from maternity leave. Only a few months ago, nursing mothers at DISH Network were being forced to pump in front of their co-workers, pump in bathrooms, or unable to pump on a schedule that best suited their need to maintain an ample milk supply for their babies.
Federal and state laws require employers to provide nursing mothers with an appropriate and comfortable place to pump, “that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public.” However, some companies have been slow or even resistant to implementing these kind changes that help support nursing mothers in the workplace. Nursing mothers shouldn’t have to worry about having a safe, clean and private space to pump their milk, or worry about exposing themselves in front of their co-workers while they pump, regardless if those co-workers are male colleagues or other nursing mothers.
Fortunately, organizations like the ACLU of Colorado have worked successfully to defend the rights of nursing mothers in the workplace and have educated both employers and their employees about what rights are afforded to nursing mothers. Since the ACLU of Colorado requested that DISH implement accommodations that were more in compliance with the law, there has been a remarkable change to the lactation rooms provided to their nursing mothers. Now, DISH offers stylish yet tranquil lactation rooms at two of their facilities in Colorado that accommodate multiple employees to privately pump at once, so that they have the peace of mind of providing milk to the babies in safe and comfortable environment. When DISH decided to revamp their lactation rooms, it did more than provide the bare minimum of what the law required from them as an employer. I believe that DISH’s efforts sends the right message to their nursing mothers that they are valued and appreciated for not only for what attributes they bring to boardroom, but also for their commitment to maintain a healthy work-life balance for their families.
I hope that other employers of nursing mothers and women who may elect to breastfeed
their future children can learn from the example set by DISH. Employers must realize that there are many benefits from accommodating nursing mothers in the workplace, such as reducing heath care costs and improving employee productivity, benefits that the Colorado legislature recognized when passing the Workplace Accommodations for Nursing Mothers Act (WANMA) in 2008. I want to thank DISH Network for taking the much needed action to provide their nursing mothers the accommodations they deserve under the state and federal laws and for taking the extra step of creating spaces that are both inviting and functional, which can only boost the morale of all of their employees.
 29 U.S.C. § 207(r)(1)(B).