The California Fair Employment and Housing Act and the California Labor Code provide benefits and protections to nursing moms who desire to express breastmilk for their infant child.
Under California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave Law, lactation is a condition related to pregnancy that requires employers to reasonably accommodate employees who desire to pump or express breast milk at work. This may mean transferring an employee to a less hazardous position. Where there are medical complications, employers may also need to provide job protected leave.
Under both the Pregnancy Disability Leave law and the California Labor Code, employers are required to provide a private space (that is not a bathroom) near the employee’s workspace and free from the intrusion of others so that the employee can pump breastmilk. Employers must also give employees a reasonable breaks when the employee has the need to express milk. The California Labor Code also specifies that the lactation space must be clean, have access to electricity, and have a seat, a counter for a breast pump, access to a sink, and a refrigerator or, if a refrigerator is not possible, a cooler or other device appropriate for storing breast milk.
Employers with under 50 employees may be exempt from the requirements of the Labor Code relating to providing space for an employee to express breast milk, but only if the employer can prove that the requirement would be an undue hardship and, even then, the employer must make reasonable efforts to provide employees with a private space that is not a bathroom to express breastmilk.
Employers cannot terminate, discriminate, or retaliate against any employee who has requested to express breastmilk at work or has asked an employer to comply with any of the requirements of the Labor Code relating to lactation.
If your employer has a multipurpose room used for lactation, then its use for lactation purposes takes priority during the time it is needed for lactation and must be free from intrusion during that time.