The extraordinary benefits of breastfeeding are well-known, and equally well-established. Breastfeeding is so important that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a newborn’s life, and then continuing breastfeeding while introducing complementary foods until a child is 12 months old, or older.

Sadly, most working mothers do not have the luxury of staying home for a year or more to breastfeed. Fortunately, California law protects the rights of working mothers to breastfeed their newborns, even after they return to work following pregnancy leave.

What Does the Law Say?

California law requires covered employers to reasonably accommodate an employee affected by a pregnancy, if she so requests, based on the advice of her healthcare provider.

According to the California Government Code §12945(a)(3)(A), a “reasonable accommodation” of an employee affected by pregnancy is any change in the work environment or in the way a job is customarily done that is effective in enabling an employee to perform the essential functions of a job.

Reasonable accommodation may include, but is not limited to an employer:

  • modifying work practices or policies
  • modifying work duties
  • modifying work schedules to permit earlier or later hours, or to permit more frequent breaks (e.g., to use the restroom)
  • providing furniture (e.g., stools or chairs) or acquiring or modifying equipment or devices

Notably, accommodations also include providing a reasonable amount of break time and use of a room or other location in close proximity to the employee’s work area to express breast milk in private, as outlined in the Labor Code.

A working mother’s right to breastfeed her child is so important that it has been codified. Section 1030 of the California Labor Code states: “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 each time the employee needs to express milk. 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.” (Cal. Lab. Code, §1030.)

Contact Akopyan Law Firm APC for Help with Pregnancy Discrimination

Employees in the counties we serve (Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, San Diego County, and Ventura County) should contact us for advice if they feel they are the victims of pregnancy discrimination. Our experienced team is ready to help with a complimentary consultation and may offer contingency-fee services. We fight for employee rights.