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Expanded Legislation for Lactation Accommodations in California

In 2019, California lawmakers passed several employment laws seeking to further extend benefits and protections in the workplace to California workers. In addition, some added a greater defense against discrimination and harassment in the workplace and to provide adequate accommodations and treatment to women who are lactating mothers. In this blog, The Grady Firm will explore SB 142, “ The Lactation Law”, to explain how developments will impact employers doing business in California effective January 2020.


The new rules, codified in SB 142:

“require an employer to provide a lactation room or location that includes prescribed features and would require an employer, among other things, to provide access to a sink and refrigerator in close proximity to the employee’s workspace, as specified. The bill would deem denial of reasonable break time or adequate space to express milk a failure to provide a rest period in accordance with state law. The bill would prohibit an employer from discharging, or in any other manner discriminating or retaliating against, an employee for exercising or attempting to exercise rights under these provisions and would establish remedies that include filing a complaint with the Labor Commissioner. The bill would authorize employers with fewer than 50 employees to seek an exemption from the requirements of these provisions if the employer demonstrates that the requirement posed an undue hardship by causing the employer significant difficulty or expense, as specified. The bill would require an employer who obtains an exemption to make a reasonable effort to provide a place for an employee to express milk in private, as specified.” – SB 142 Senate Bill No. 142

SB 142: Expansion of Lactation Accommodation Requirements

This bill expands existing law and follows the lead of San Francisco’s 2017 “Lactation in the Workplace Ordinance” — relating to lactation accommodation to add a number of new requirements for the lactation space itself, including access to running water and a refrigerator for storing milk, as well as employer policy requirements and document retention obligations. The bill also subjects employers to Labor Code penalties for violations.

To be compliant: Running water does not have to be provided in the lactation room itself. The obligation is only to provide access to running water in the workplace. Under the new law, the room itself needs only:

  1. Allow the employee to express milk in private;

  2. not be a bathroom;

  3. be in close proximity to the employee’s work area, shielded from view, and free from intrusion;

  4. be safe, clean, and free of hazardous materials;

  5. contain a surface on which to place a breast pump and personal items;

  6. contain a place to sit; and

  7. have access to electricity.

IS THERE AN EXEMPTION?:

The legislature did carve out exemptions for Small Employers. The new law outlines an undue hardship exemption, regarding the location of the lactation accommodations. This exemption applies to employers with fewer than 50 employees that can demonstrate that it would cause an undue hardship making it extremely difficult or expensive based on their size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the business. If the employer can demonstrate that these apply, the employer must make reasonable efforts to find a private and close location (other than a toilet stall).

If the employer cannot provide break time or a location that complies with the exemption’s requirements, the employer must provide a written response to the employee.

With an increase in liability and potential penalties and fines for failure to comply with these new regulations, The Grady Firm, P.C. highly recommends consulting with your legal counsel, and not just denying the accommodations. Book your consultation with us today. The employer risks claims of discrimination in future lawsuits.

Wow! The year 2020 continues to be an interesting one, especially during this tumultuous time in which workers and employers are being forced to reevaluate their relationships with independent contractors, arbitration, and settlement agreements. Read more about that here (AB 5). What do you think about all these changes?

If you have any questions about these new laws or how they may impact your agency, please contact The Grady Firm, P.C. via our online form, or calling (323) 450-9010.

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The Grady Firm attorneys provide the following employment law services:

  1. Act as I-9 agent;

  2. I-9 audit preparation or defense;

  3. Employee v. independent contractor classification analysis;

  4. Assistance with converting independent contractors to employees;

  5. On-site, classroom-style Sexual Harassment training for employees and supervisors;

  6. “Experiential” supervisor training in which managerial employees practice processing a harassment complaint and commencing an investigation in pairs with other trainees.

  7. Draft and review Employee Handbooks, arbitration agreements, and Anti-Harassment policies;

  8. Employee personnel file audits;

  9. E-Verify account creation and monitoring;

  10. Assistance with the employee on-boarding, discipline, and termination process;

  11. Medical leave policies and implementation advising; and

  12. Litigation defense.

To learn more about ensuring your business is compliant with state and local laws, schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation with The Grady Firm’s attorneys; call +1 (323) 450-9010; or fill out a Contact Request Form. The Grady Firm has offices in Beverly Hills, Newport, and San Diego, California.

*Jennifer A. Grady, Esq. is licensed to practice employment law in California.

This article is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. This article does not make any guarantees as to the outcome of a particular matter, as each matter has its own set of circumstances and must be evaluated individually by a licensed attorney.

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