Perhaps your employer was good to you throughout your pregnancy. As it progressed, your employer accommodated you as much as possible. You even took off time to be with your newborn after the birth and had no trouble getting the time off and returning to work.
During that time, you decided to breastfeed. When you returned to work, you told your boss that you would need to express your milk periodically during the workday. You expected the same accommodation you received during your pregnancy, but now, your boss doesn’t want you to take time away from your duties to do so. Does your employer have the right to deny you?
What California law says about lactation accommodation
Under California law, your boss cannot deny you the right to express your milk. In fact, the company must provide you with certain accommodations:
- You deserve additional break times throughout the workday to express.
- Your employer cannot demand a note from your doctor regarding your desire to express your breast milk.
- Even though your employer must provide you with extra breaks, you do not have the right to receive payment for them. The company must still pay you for standard breaks, however.
- Your employer must take reasonable steps to provide you with a place to express your breast milk located near your work area. This space cannot be a bathroom, according to a state law.
If you have put in requests regarding a time and place to pump, but your employer denied those requests, you are within your rights to file a complaint, and your employer could potentially face fines and owe you compensation, along with the original accommodation you requested.
It may not be quite that simple
Even though all you did was exercise your rights, your employer may not react well to your requests or your complaint. You could easily become the victim of retaliation. Some acts are more blatant than others are, but even subtle behaviors could constitute retaliation. If you stop receiving good assignments, good reviews and more, this could be the case. In fact, your employer may attempt to get you to quit or could simply terminate you.
If you can prove that you became the victim of retaliation simply for wanting a lactation accommodation and/or submitting a complaint if you were denied this right, then you could be entitled to damages.