What if your employer won’t let you breastfeed at work?

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2022 | Employment Law

If you ask your California employer if you can breastfeed at work and they tell you no, you need to understand whether they are within their rights or breaking the law. Here are some things to understand:

First, you need to differentiate between breastfeeding, with your baby clamped to your breast, and expressing milk to give to your baby when you get home.

In 2019 California legislators approved a bill requiring employers to allow mothers to bring their babies to work, but the Governor dismissed it. So you can only breastfeed your baby directly at work if your employer allows you to take the baby into your workplace.

What about expressing milk?

Almost all employers in the state must allow you to do this and make provisions for you to do so. They need to provide a private space for mothers to do this. The restroom does not count, but your desk might do, provided it meets the requirements for privacy, space and charging point laid out in the state’s workplace lactation accommodation law.

Your employer must allow you the time to do it whenever you need to. You should fit this into your break times where possible, but if you need more time or to do it at a different time, your employer must allow you to take extra unpaid breaks.

What if my employer claims the law does not apply to them?

Some employers may be exempt, yet most are not. If you are unsure about your employer’s obligations, seek legal help to find out more about your rights as a California employee.