Your Right to Lactation Accommodations at Work
| Read Time: 2 minutes | Pregnancy Discrimination

You have the right to numerous accommodations to allow you to continue breastfeeding after you return to work. Yet a recent survey found that a third of mothers stopped breastfeeding because they returned to work, and 19% were pressured by their employer to stop.

You cannot be required to choose between breastfeeding and your job. An increasing number of State and federal laws protect your choice about how to feed your baby.

What is a Lactation Accommodation?

California law requires employers to provide accommodations to nursing mothers so they can express breastmilk during the workday. Employers must provide a clean and private space, other than a bathroom, with amenities like a plug, a flat surface, and access to a refrigerator. Breastfeeding workers are also entitled to additional unpaid breaks as needed to express milk. 

Location & amenities

You are entitled to a room or other location—NOT a bathroom—to pump. The room or space must be truly private. It must be clean and free of hazardous materials. It must be in “reasonable proximity” to your work area.

It must have an electrical outlet; you can’t be forced to purchase an expensive cordless pump (that may not be covered by insurance).

You must be provided with ready access to a refrigerator and sink with running water.

You are entitled to enough break time to pump for your comfort and your baby’s needs

Your employer cannot require medical documentation about your need for breaks to pump.

If you are a non-exempt employee, you must be paid for regular rest breaks. Additional breaks may be unpaid.

If you are an exempt employee, your employer cannot cut your pay or take deductions for breaks.

No retaliation

Your employer cannot demote you, reduce your schedule, deny you a promotion, or worse, terminate you, because they are annoyed that you are pumping at work, taking “too many” breaks, or that you took maternity leave.

What to Do if Your Employer is Breaking the Law

First, request accommodations in writing, and say that you need the accommodations to breastfeed or pump.

If you are being harassed or retaliated against, make a complaint about the conduct to someone at work you trust in writing. If you are uncomfortable with this, talk to a lawyer first.

If the problem is not solved, get a free consultation with a lawyer to discuss possible solutions.

The Bottom Line

You have the right to the breaks, privacy, basic amenities, and human dignity and respect that you deserve as a new mother making some of her first big choices for her child.

What does this mean?

You must be accommodated. You can’t be forced to pump in cluttered and dirty closets or bathroom stalls.

You cannot be harassed. That means no “jokes” by immature or malicious co-workers and no mean commentary about pumping being an excuse to get out of work.

You cannot be retaliated against. There can’t be any negative job consequences for you because you are pumping.

Contact Our Pregnancy Discrimination Attorneys Today

Our firm was founded by a working mother with personal experience fighting for the right to pump at work. It can be a demeaning and frustrating experience to fight your employer and challenges breastfeeding can be devastating for new mothers. We are passionate about helping women who are denied the right to lactation accommodations.

If you have experienced discrimination due to your pregnancy or been denied lactation accommodations, do not hesitate to contact us today through our website or give us a call at (213) 465-4802 to see how we can help!

Author Photo

Julian Burns King graduated with honors from Harvard Law School and founded King & Siegel in 2018. As head of the Firm’s discrimination and harassment practice areas, she champions the rights of working parents and victims of workplace discrimination and harassment. She has been recognized as a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers annually since 2018 and has recovered tens of millions of dollars on behalf of her clients.

Read More Articles by Julian Burns King