I am breastfeeding and I was told I could not take breaks at work to pump. What are my legal rights in Los Angeles?

I’m sorry to hear about your situation. Being a new mom and going back to work can be stressful, but it can be made worse by an uncooperative employer. It’s important that you familiarize yourself with your legal rights and if you believe they are being violated, that you speak with an employment attorney.

Since 2010, a federal law called Break Time for Nursing Mothers has given breastfeeding women the right to take breaks at work to pump. The law amended the Fair Labor Standards Act to require employers to provide basic accommodations to breastfeeding mothers at work. Under the law, employers must provide a reasonable break time to express milk for one year after the child’s birth. The employer must also provide a place (other than a bathroom) which is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public.

However, employers do not have to pay employees for any breaks they take to express milk. If an employee already received paid breaks, the employee could use those breaks to express milk, and must be compensated in the same way as other employees who are taking breaks. Some employers choose to allow women to have a more flexible schedule and make up extra time by coming to work earlier, staying later, or taking a shorter lunch break.

If you are a breastfeeding mom and your employer is not allowing you to take breaks to express milk, you should speak with an attorney. Not all employers are covered by the law, but you may have other legal options. If you are in Los Angeles, call me, Conal Doyle, Los Angeles employment attorney, at 310-385-0567. I can help. Call today to learn more or to schedule a free consultation on your case.