Nursing Mothers Now Protected in the Workplace

11.2012
Employment Law Reporter, Ervin Cohen & Jessup LLP

California has enacted numerous laws in recent years to protect and promote breastfeeding. These include the right to breastfeed in public, as well as the duty of employers to accommodate an employee for the purposes of breastfeeding and to make efforts to provide a room for such purposes. Until now, however, California law has not enacted legislation to specifically protect nursing mothers from being reassigned to other work, requested to take additional leave, or from other workplace actions that might be imposed as a consequence of breastfeeding.

Assembly Bill 2386 was passed to address these issues. Specifically, AB 2386 clarifies the existing statutory definition of “sex” under the Fair Employment and Housing Act by adding that the term includes breastfeeding and medical conditions relating to breastfeeding. Accordingly, effective January 1, 2013, any discriminatory acts based upon this activity will constitute discrimination based on sex. In addition to clarifying existing workplace protections for working mothers, it is hoped that AB 2386 will promote greater acceptance of mothers in the workplace.

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