Breastfeeding and expressing milk at work: What are my rights?

Award-Winning California Employment Law Firm Since 2012
On Behalf of Law Offices of Eric A. Boyajian | April 19, 2021 Harassment & Discrimination

As a new mother, you may wonder how you will handle feeding your baby when you return to work. People can have strong opinions about a mother taking out her breasts in public, despite it being natural.

California law makes things clear. Women may breastfeed any place that they and their baby have the right to be.

Does that mean I can breastfeed my baby at work?

You have the right to breastfeed in your place of work, provided the baby has the right to be there. For most employees, this will not be an option because their employer does not permit them to take their baby to work.

What concessions does my employer need to make for expressing milk?

If you do not take your baby to work, you may need to express breast milk. If you cannot do so during your usual breaks, your employer should permit you extra unpaid break time to do so. They could, however, try to argue that doing so affects their ability to operate.

Employers must also allow you a private space to do so. This space must meet specific conditions, such as being clean and safe, having a table to place a breast pump on and electricity to plug it in.

At what point do laws related to expressing milk at work cease to apply?

Under California law, you have the right to continue to do so regardless of the child’s age. If your employer tries to prohibit you from exercising your rights as a mother, seek legal advice. Preventing you from breastfeeding or expressing milk is in effect discriminating against you due to your gender. After all, men cannot produce milk.