California Law Makes Breastfeeding Breaks Mandatory for New Moms | Mann & Elias
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California Law Makes Breastfeeding Breaks Mandatory for New Moms


California is one of few leading states, with workplace laws that really protect the rights of pregnant employees. When working mothers return to work, a majority try to adjust to new practices like breastfeeding. Pregnancy discrimination is a constant concern – even more so when employers feel accommodating them is burdensome. At Mann & Elias our employment attorneys can help you navigate through corporate structures when you face any kind of discriminatory behavior in the office.

Breastfeeding in Public vs. in The Office

Is it okay to breastfeed in public? This has been an ongoing debate for the past few years. Advocates raise awareness to challenges women experience in public whether they openly do so or try to tend to their child discreetly. Most companies have picked up on the need for change, and a majority offer safe spaces for women to lactate without retribution. A personal space limits the need to do so publicly on company grounds.

In 2002 a law was passed to extend protection for mothers that had to lactate at work. Unfortunately, they were not strong enough for a state-wide impact. The law was reformed in 2019 to build a stronger case that offers long-term protection. Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill to increase employer’s responsibility to make the workplace more inclusive.

The law went into effect last year, requiring employers to provide a room and safe space for women that need to pump. It must follow these conditions:

  • A clean space that is free from hazardous materials.
  • Includes a sink with running water.
  • Provides a refrigerator (in case it might be needed).
  • Includes a place for female employees to sit down.
  • Has an accessible outlet.
  • The space is sanitized regularly.

The location should be in a private area away from high-traffic areas in the office, as it is only for breastfeeding employees. If you find that the company you work for only provides unsanitary locations to pump, you can sue them for endangering conditions. For clarification, it should be separate from a bathroom – and not a storage room or similar location. A lot of businesses objected with the new law because it required building a space or adjusting pumping to add in proper plumbing. As an employee this is not your concern. If you are faced with this issue, our Los Angeles lawyers for hazardous post-pregnancy conditions can help you get compensated for inconveniences. Not being able to lactate can impact your performance at work and may impact your health.

The Exception to California’s Law

Companies with less than 50 employees can file for exemption if they can prove they don’t have the financial means to abide by the law. Similarly, those that share office spaces in a tenant building or businesses with limited space may not be able to build a private room with a sink and fridge. As an employee you might be able to negotiate with an alternative option that is suitable for you.

Break Time

The amount of breaks you can take, and whether it will be paid or unpaid is dependent on your employer. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) employers should allow frequent, unpaid breaks for up to one year after the child’s birth. Outside of California employers are only mandated to allow an hour to nonexempt employees. Exempt employees are not covered under this law but are provided the same benefits through California’s accommodation ruling. As long as an employee is nursing she can take necessary breaks.

Pregnancy Discrimination Over the Years

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) is enforced to prevent discrimination and biases toward hiring, termination, pay, assignments, benefits, and overall workplace environment. Countless businesses, like Walmart and Ralphs Grocery Company have been impacted from these legal proceedings.

Why is it, that after so many years pregnancy discrimination, it is still on the rise?

Normally, when reported to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a pregnancy discrimination claim is filed under other types via title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. While the numbers are in conjunction with other factors, there were 2,698 filed complaints, and 338 settlements reached last year.

2019: Two years ago, there were 2,753 reported cases and 313 settlements reached.

2018: Three years ago, 2,790 cases were reported, and 322 settlements were reached.

2017: Four years ago, 3,174 cases were reported (which is the highest during the span of four years), with 355 settlements reached.

When you consider taking legal action against your employer for retaliation or biased behavior due to the pregnancy, you must have substantial evidence to prove your case. An employment attorney in Los Angeles can guide you through the process, to further explain how you are being treated differently than other employees. You are not alone; there are thousands of employees that file a complaint through the EEOC, in hopes that their working conditions will change.

What Is Pregnancy Discrimination?

If you or a loved one were discriminated against, you should seek legal counsel immediately to file a report with the company and EEOC. Pregnancy discrimination is a variation of sex discrimination, which targets women who are:

  1. Expecting (soon-to-be mothers).
  2. Have recently given birth.
  3. Are experiencing related medical conditions.

Outside of employers choosing not to accommodate pregnant women’s needs at work, the U.S. is also one of the last countries to provide required paid leave for expecting mothers. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) offers job-protected leave for parents, but it is unpaid making it difficult for them to commit for the full time-off period. In California, the law mandates employers must allow up to four months of disability leave for women impacted by medical conditions and disability. Much reform is still needed to provide better options, that not only protect but make it easier for accommodations at work when taking leave becomes an inconvenient option.

About Mann & Elias

The Law Offices of Mann & Elias is an employment law firm that provides guidance and legal support for individuals facing issues in the workplace. We represent clients at every level of the state and federal court systems in lawsuits regarding discrimination, wrongful termination, unpaid wages, and more. When your case is in our hands, we hope to minimize stress and concerns associated with work.

Workplace disputes and negotiations can be complicated and uncomfortable between an employee and employer. In many cases an employer can retaliate, causing individuals to feel that they are at a great disadvantage in the company. When you retain one of our lawyers, you will be well-protected and advised. While there are thousands of lawyers to choose from, we strongly believe our success is based on:

  • 50+ years of trial experience
  • Excellent advocacy skills
  • Intense preparation and research
  • Quality care

Since our partnership began over 20 years ago, we have settled hundreds of claims, completed 100 jury and bench trials, and recovered more than $18 million in settlements. In the end, our goal is to understand what you need and achieve the best outcome for you by focusing on those needs. For dedicated representation with no upfront fees, give us a call at 323-866-9564 or email 



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