Breastfeeding has been proven to provide impressive benefits to young children and their mothers. In fact, the state of California has passed numerous laws in the last two decades to promote breastfeeding, educate new mothers, and protect their rights to breastfeed. If you are a new, working mother, or a new mother ready to re-enter the workplace, you need to be aware of your legal rights.
Employer Must Make Accommodations for Breast Milk Expression
In 2001, the California legislature amended the California Labor Code to add protections to breastfeeding mothers in the workplace. Labor Code 1030 requires that:
"Every employer, including the state and any political subdivision, shall provide a reasonable amount of break time to accommodate an employee desiring to express breast milk for the employee's infant child. The break time shall, if possible, run concurrently with any break time already provided to the employee. Break time for an employee that does not run concurrently with the rest time authorized for the employee by the applicable wage order of the Industrial Welfare Commission shall be unpaid."
Further, the Labor Code requires employers to make "reasonable efforts to provide the employee with the use of a room or other location, other than a toilet stall, in close proximity to the employee's work area, for the employee to express milk in private." This may include their office or workspace if it allows the employee to express milk in private. However, the employer can deny break time if it "would seriously disrupt the operations of the employer." Employers who do not comply with the code face a civil penalty of $100 per violation.
Freedom from Employment Discrimination
Breastfeeding mothers are also protected by discriminatory employment action under California law. Specifically, Government Code 12940(a) says that it is "unlawful employment practice" for an employer to refuse to select for employment, to bar or discharge a person from employment, or to discriminate against the person regarding compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment based on the sex status of the person.
Further, "Sex" has been defined to include: (A) Pregnancy or medical conditions related to pregnancy; (B) Childbirth or medical conditions related to childbirth; or (C) Breastfeeding or medical conditions related to breastfeeding.
Protect Your Legal Rights
If you are a breastfeeding mother, know that you have rights in the workplace and are lawfully protected from of discrimination from your employer. The attorneys at Moss Bollinger have spent years standing up to employers and may be able to help you. If we accept your case, we work on a contingency basis and we collect nothing up front. Call us at 800-249-1175 to schedule an appointment or contact us online.