Monday, February 29, 2016

Know Your Breastfeeding Rights!

Since its founding in 1994, San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition has received many complaints regarding breastfeeding rights violations. Recently it is reported that some teachers in Vista Unified School District have challenges to get adequate time to pump at work.

As a breastfeeding mother, your right to pump at work and nurse in public is protected here in California, USA. But you can’t exercise your rights if you don’t know what they are. Federal laws require any employer with 50 or more employees to provide employees with reasonable time and space for nursing. California laws require all the employers to do this.

Both Federal and California law protect a mother’s right to breastfeed in public. Furthermore, California is one of the states that not only has a law that protect a mother’s right to breastfeed in public, but also an enforcement provision to uphold this law.

Exercise your rights of pumping at work

Most employers are happy to provide the support that you need, as long as they know how important it is for you to have their support. If your company does not have a breastfeeding support program, it could be that nobody has ever asked for one. As a breastfeeding mother, it is important that you be the one who asks for it.

If the supervisor and colleagues don’t understand how important it is for you to breastfeed, explain to them that breastfeeding is the healthiest choice for you and your baby. You can even have an expert from SDCBC to talk to your employer. Contact the coalition and we are here to help.

Your supervisor may not know what you need to continue breastfeeding. Let them know your basic needs to express milk is simply a private location and some flexible breaks. If your supervisor tells you that the company has no space for a pumping area, you can look around, find space that you are willing to use, and make the proposal.

If your supervisor tells you that other colleagues would complain, you can invite lactation professionals to your company and have a seminar about the benefits of breastfeeding to mother and baby’s health so that your colleagues can learn.

Check out SDCBC’s working and breastfeeding resources for additional information.
Contact Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center if you need legal advice when breastfeeding rights violated at work.
File a complaint against hostile working environment at California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

Exercise your rights of nursing in public

When someone asks you to cover up in a store or restaurant, stay calm and breathe deeply. If the person is an employee of the establishment, you may ask, “Are you refusing to serve me because I am breastfeeding?” or “Are you asking me to leave (or cover up) because I am breastfeeding?”

If the person respect your right, thank them and breastfeed on. If they tell you “yes,” document their response then inform them that under both Federal and California law, you have the right to breastfeed in any public or private place you are authorized to be, and the law does not require you to cover up.

If they insist on refusing to serve you, tell them your are disappointed with the way in which they handled this situation and that you will be filing a complaint. You can also send a letter to the business after the incident. 

Check out San Diego Nursing in Public Task Force for more information.
Contact Best for Babes if being bullied for nursing in public.
File a sex discrimination complaint under the Unruh Civil Rights Act.

This is an original post to San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition by To-wen Tseng. Photo credit to Mu-huan Chiang.

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