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Working Mom at desk with baby

It’s hard enough returning to work after baby – place on top of that finding enough time, let alone room, to pump at work.  The great thing is that California is one of the more protective states for
breastfeeding moms.  Under the California Labor Code, employers are required to provide reasonable break time for expressing breast milk.

Specifically:

Section 1030. 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. 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.

Section 1031.The employer shall make reasonable efforts to provide the employee with the use of a room or other location, other than a toilet stall, in close proximity to the employee’s work area, for the employee to express milk in private. The room or location may include the place where the employee normally works if it otherwise meets the requirements of this section.

Section 1032. An employer is not required to provide break time under this chapter if to do so would seriously disrupt the operations of the employer.

Section 1033. (a) An employer who violates any provision of this chapter shall be subject to a civil penalty in the amount of one hundred dollars ($100) for each violation.(b) If, upon inspection or investigation, the Labor Commissioner determines that a violation of this chapter has occurred, the Labor Commissioner may issue a citation. The procedures for issuing, contesting, and enforcing judgments for citations or civil penalties issued by the Labor Commissioner for violations of this chapter shall be the same as those set forth in Section 1197.1. (c) Notwithstanding any other provision of this code, violations of this chapter shall not be misdemeanors under this code.

In short, this means: (1) the break time runs concurrently with breaks required for all employees (i.e. meal and rest breaks) – in other words, if you can express milk during your lunch or rest break, then this fulfills the Labor Code requirement; (2) any additional break time can be unpaid; and (3) the employer must make reasonable efforts to provide a private place near your work area for you to express milk – I.e. No more having to pump in the public restroom.  The only exception to these laws is if providing breastfeeding breaks would seriously disrupt the operations of an employer.

Finally, taking aside these breastfeeding accommodations, pregnant women and women return to work after pregnancy are entitled to California’s protections against discrimination and harassment based on their pregnancy (including need to breastfeed).  Thus, if you are experiencing any offensive or unfair conduct, or believe you are being penalized because of your pregnancy (or breastfeeding), call one of our attorneys.