Capitol Alert

Do you pump breast milk? You have a right to private area at work under new California law

Nursing mothers will receive more accommodation at work to pump breast milk under a new California law.

Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday signed Assembly Bill 1976, which starting next year, requires employers to provide their workers with a private area that is not a bathroom to pump.

The measure, by Assemblywoman Monique Limón, D-Goleta, allows businesses to apply for an exemption if they can show that making a space available for breast pumping would be an undue hardship.

Existing law already requires employers to make a reasonable effort to provide both a lactation space that is not a bathroom stall and breaks for workers who need to pump breast milk.

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Proponents of AB 1976 argued that the bill would create cleaner and safer areas for pumping. They noted that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children be fed breast milk until at least six months of age, but an unsupportive work environment presents a significant hurdle to many mothers, especially women of color.

Opponents said the bill would be onerous for employers, and that it will expose them to frivolous lawsuits.

Brown vetoed another measure, Senate Bill 937, that would have gone even further by requiring amenities such as access to a power source and either a refrigerator or cooler in the private pumping area.

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