We Protect Workers

3 facts about breastfeeding and pregnancy discrimination

Women who are pregnant and those who are returning to work while breastfeeding a baby have specific rights in the workplace. Ensuring that all employees know exactly what rights they have is critical. 

Fortunately, employees in California have some rigorous rights in these situations. State law provides more protection for workers than federal law. One difference is that companies with five employees are covered by state law, but federal law sets that threshold at 15 employees. 

1. Pregnancy-related conditions are covered

The law in California doesn’t only cover the actual pregnancy for workers. It also covers pregnancy-related conditions. Pregnancy loss and postpartum depression are both covered.

2. Specific accommodations are required

There are some particular accommodations that these workers can utilize. More frequent breaks and using a stool or chair are two examples. Employers can’t just state that these accommodations pose undue hardship in California. Instead, they’d have to show the hardship the accommodations would cause if they don’t want to provide them.

3. Breastfeeding protections are set

A woman who returns to work while she’s breastfeeding should be provided with a private place to pump. This can’t be in a bathroom, but it should be close to her work area. For up to one year after the baby is born, she must be allowed to pump as needed. The time will likely be more frequent when the baby is younger while the mother still establishes her milk supply. 

Employees who are pregnant or breastfeeding and feel they’re being discriminated against or harassed should know they can take legal action. Working with someone familiar with these matters may relieve the woman’s stress.