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Breastfeeding or pumping moms often face workplace discrimination

Most women know that the Family Medical Leave Act protects them when they need time off of work during or after a pregnancy. Not as many women realize that both federal and California state law protects them when it comes to lactation as well. After the birth of a child, a mother has the legal and medical right to decide to nurse her child or pump her breast milk after returning to work in order to support her child's health and development. There are many medical benefits for both mother and child associated with breast milk, which is why there are legal protections in place.

Too often, however, employers choose not to honor the rights of their nursing or pumping employees. It is common in sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination cases for employers to thinly veil their mistreatment of, or discrimination against, female employees.

Your boss may not have said that nursing accommodations are why they're demoting you, offering fewer or worse shifts, leads or clients or terminating you from your job. That doesn't mean that it isn't the reason why. If your employer has changed how you're treated following your pregnancy, you may need the help of an attorney.

Your employer must provide time and space for pumping

In some cases, childcare will bring your infant to you for feeding every few hours. Those arrangements are rare. It is far more common for working mothers to pump their breast milk during their work hours to leave their child with a supply the next day. Whether you're nursing or pumping your breast milk for your baby, the law protects your medical rights. Your employer must provide a private, sanitary space for pumping. The bathroom is not an acceptable space.

Your employer may require that you pump during your meal and other breaks, but they must allow for breaks roughly every three hours.

If your employer refuses to accommodate your needs for pumping or if you have been treated poorly or fired after requesting accommodations, you may have experienced discrimination based on your gender and status as a mother. Sometimes, you are punished or fired after complaining of mistreatment or pushing for accommodations that were initially denied. You should make a point of discussing the circumstances with an experienced discrimination and workplace law attorney as soon as possible.

An attorney can help you recover your losses

When you've faced illegal discrimination or mistreatment by an employer due to pregnancy or lactation, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Legal representation will aid in the review the details of your situation to determine your next best step. Your attorney may be able to help you negotiate a better severance package. Failing that, he or she can help you file a civil lawsuit and hold your former employer accountable.

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