If you are a working woman in California, the law protects you against pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. This protection extends to when you return to work and are breastfeeding. Your employer must follow federal and state laws by allowing you to pump during work hours. If your employer fails to do so, you likely have a gender/sex discrimination claim.
Pursuant to California Labor Code Section 1030, “Every employer, including 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 use of the word “shall” means the breaks are mandatory. Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) you must be given a reasonable break time to express breast milk for your nursing child through one year after birth. Although the law does not specify an amount of time for these breaks, the Department of Labor estimates a 15-20 minute break about two or three times per day during an eight hour shift. The California state FEHA laws also provide similar protections.
The following accommodations must be provided by your employer:
- A place to express milk which is shielded from view of others;
- The place must be near your work area;
- The place may NOT be a toilet stall.
If your employer has discriminated or retaliated against you for needing or requesting breaks to express milk, they have broken the law and should be held responsible for their actions. If you are interested in a legal analysis of your potential case, please contact Potter Handy, Employment Law Group.