ST. PAUL (WJON News) - Menards has agreed to a statewide audit of their stores after an investigation by the Minnesota Department of Labor.

An investigation of Menards in Fridley found the store had improperly deducted pay from an employee who needed time to express milk and then retaliated against that employee when she asserted her workplace rights.

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The Women’s Economic Security Act requires that all nursing and lactating workers receive:

  • break times to express milk regardless of their child’s age without losing compensation;
  • workplace lactation spaces that are clean, private, and secure;
  • break times to express milk regardless of whether providing the breaks unduly disrupts the operations of the employer;
  • breaks based on their needs, whether that means expressing milk during an existing paid break, during an existing unpaid break, such as a meal break, or during some other time; and
  • notification of the rights of pregnant and lactating workers when hired, when a worker makes an inquiry about or requests parental leave, and in a worker handbook if one is provided.

DLI Commissioner Nicole Blissenbach explains the importance of the ruling.

Workers should not have to choose between expressing milk for their child and getting paid or keeping their job. DLI supports new parents who choose to return to the workforce and understands the importance and impact of enforcing the Minnesota law protecting workers’ rights to express milk at work without having their compensation reduced.

Through a consent order signed December 5th, Menards agrees to:

  • paying back wages to compensate the worker for illegally deducting time from the worker’s pay on 103 separate occasions;
  • paying damages to compensate the worker for three days of lost wages when she was suspended in retaliation for asserting her workplace rights;
  • performing a statewide audit of all of its stores to confirm no other workers had their wages deducted for expressing milk and, if they did, compensating all workers whose wages were reduced;
  • reporting the outcome of the audit to DLI;
  • updating its policy handbook to reflect all current rights under WESA, including rights to express milk, pregnancy accommodations, and parental leave;
  • posting a copy of DLI’s nursing employees’ poster at each store in Minnesota, as well as a copy of the consent order.

In addition, Menards must pay $15,000 in administrative penalties, with $7,500 of the penalties stayed pending compliance with the agreement.

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