Watkins & Letofsky, LLP | A Full Service Civil Litigation Law Firm

Call for a Free Consultation

A Full Service Law Firm
  1. Home
  2.  – 
  3. Pregnancy Discrimination
  4.  – What are the rights of breastfeeding workers in California?

What are the rights of breastfeeding workers in California?

On Behalf of | Mar 13, 2024 | Pregnancy Discrimination |

In California, the rights of breastfeeding workers are protected and supported through specific state and federal laws designed to create a conducive environment for lactating mothers to express milk or breastfeed in the workplace. 

California laws protect breastfeeding workers from discrimination or retaliation for exercising their right to breastfeed or express milk in the workplace. Employers cannot demote, discharge or discriminate against an employee for using break time to express milk or for asking for accommodations to do so.

Accommodations: time and space

California law requires employers to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for their infant child. This break time should, if possible, run concurrently with any paid break time already provided to an employee. However, if additional time is needed beyond the regular breaks, the law does not mandate this time to be compensated.

Besides providing break time, employers are also required to offer a safe, clean and private space, other than a bathroom, for an employee to express breast milk. This space must be close to an employee’s work area, shielded from view and free from intrusion by coworkers or the public. The room or space provided must have certain amenities, such as a place to sit, a surface to place a breast pump and personal items, and access to electricity. 

Ideally, this space is solely dedicated to lactation; however, it can be used for other purposes, provided that its primary function is honored when needed by a nursing parent. Employers are also required to make reasonable efforts to provide an employee with the use of a nearby refrigerator or another cooling device for storing expressed milk and access to a sink with running water.

Finally, employers must have a policy about lactation accommodation that includes information about an employee’s rights under the law. This policy must be distributed to all employees upon hiring and whenever there is a question about parental rights. Meaning, it isn’t enough to simply understand that workers have rights, employers must inform their workers of those rights too.