Breastfeeding women are now offered even greater protection in the workplace due to recent legislation explicitly prohibiting discrimination against them. This law, effective January 1, 2013, supplements existing California law addressing breastfeeding in the workplace and heightens employer obligations.
Legislation was enacted, in part, to reflect a decision by the Fair Employment and Housing Commission(FEHC) in 2009 in which an employee was terminated because she was nursing her baby during her lunchtime break.
California law provides that a mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, except the private home or residence of another, where the mother and the child are otherwise authorized to be present. California law further requires that employers provide breastfeeding mothers with a breastfeeding break as well as a room within close proximity to the employee's working area to express milk in private.
What Laws Protect Breastfeeding at Work?
AB 2386 amends the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and makes it clear that breastfeeding is protected by law and discrimination on that basis is illegal and could result in a lawsuit for discrimination. The FEHC's decision was designated as having presidential authority, thus such discrimination is a violation of FEHA. The amended Government Code definition of “sex” includes, but is not limited to:
- Pregnancy or medical conditions related to pregnancy.
- Childbirth or medical conditions related to childbirth.
- Breastfeeding or medical conditions related to childbirth.
What Does it mean that breastfeeding employees are a "protected class"?
Thus, lactating employees constitute a protected class that may not be discriminated or retaliated against or harassed. Lactating mothers are a protected class on the basis of sex.
- Has your employer provided the necessary lactation accommodations?
- Have you been afforded the necessary breaks during the workday for lactation purposes?
- Has your employer taken adverse action against you because of your need to express breast milk or breastfeed your infant?
Get Help From Experienced Attorneys
The discrimination attorneys at Kingsley & Kingsley can assist you in answering these questions and many more about your case. Proving discrimination can be challenging, but with the right legal team, it can be done. Take the first step to protecting yourself and stopping this hurtful and illegal behavior. Take advantage of a free initial consultation to discuss your specific case by calling the toll free number (888) 500-8469 or clicking here to contact us regarding your case.