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Step-by-Step Guide to Breastfeeding in the California Workplace

December 7, 2023

As a breastfeeding employee in California, you have certain rights and protections under state
and federal law. The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the California Labor Code
provide specific provisions related to breastfeeding in the workplace, and it’s important to
understand these provisions to ensure that you are treated fairly and that your rights are
protected. In this blog post, we’ll outline the step-by-step process for understanding and
navigating the breastfeeding rights and protections for employees in the California workplace.

Step 1: Know your rights under FEHA and the California Labor Code.

The first step in understanding and navigating your breastfeeding rights in the California
workplace is to know your rights under FEHA and the California Labor Code. FEHA prohibits
discrimination against breastfeeding employees, and the California Labor Code requires
employers to provide reasonable break time and a private place for employees to express milk.
Specifically, under FEHA, it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee
because she is breastfeeding or expressing milk, and under the California Labor Code, an
employer must provide an employee with a reasonable amount of break time to express milk,
as well as a private, clean place to do so.
See e.g. Labor Code sections 1030, 1031, 1032, 1033; Civil Code section 43.3; Government Code
section 12945.

Step 2: Communicate with your employer.

If you are a breastfeeding employee in California and you need time or a private place to
express milk, it’s important to communicate with your employer about your needs. You should
let your employer know that you are breastfeeding and need time and a private place to
express milk. You should also let your employer know how much time you will need and how
often you will need it.

Step 3: Document your requests and any accommodations provided.

If you make a request for time or a private place to express milk, it’s important to document
your request and any accommodations provided by your employer, especially if your employer
refuses to provide you with reasonable accommodations to express milk. This documentation
can be useful in the event that you need to assert your rights or seek legal remedies for any
discrimination or violations of your rights.

Step 4: Seek legal advice.

If you have any questions or concerns about your breastfeeding rights in the California
workplace, or if you believe that your rights have been violated, it’s important to seek legal
advice. An experienced employment attorney can review the specific circumstances of your
case and advise you on your rights and options under FEHA and the California Labor Code. They
can also help you navigate any potential legal issues or challenges that may arise during the
breastfeeding process.
As a breastfeeding employee in California, you have certain rights and protections under state
and federal law. By understanding these rights, communicating with your employer,
documenting your requests and accommodations, and seeking legal advice if necessary, you
can ensure that you are treated fairly and that your rights are protected in the California
workplace. Don’t hesitate to seek legal help if you have any questions or concerns about
breastfeeding in the California workplace.
It’s also important to note that the breastfeeding rights and protections outlined in FEHA and
the California Labor Code apply to all employees, regardless of their job title or position. This
means that whether you are an hourly worker, a salaried employee, or a manager, you are
entitled to the same rights and protections under these laws.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) also includes provisions
related to breastfeeding in the workplace. Under the ACA, employers with 50 or more
employees must provide “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free
from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express
breast milk.” This requirement is in addition to the protections provided under FEHA and the
California Labor Code, and it applies to all employees, regardless of their state of residence.
In conclusion, as a breastfeeding employee in California, you have important rights and
protections under state and federal law. By understanding these rights, communicating with
your employer, documenting your requests and accommodations, and seeking legal advice if
necessary, you can ensure that you are treated fairly and that your rights are protected in the
California workplace. Don’t hesitate to seek legal help if you have any questions or concerns
about breastfeeding in the California workplace. So, it is very important for employees to be
aware of their rights and take necessary steps to protect them.

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