New California Law Says Goodbye to Bathroom Breast Pumping

Most people are understandably horrified at the thought of anyone eating in a bathroom.  But providing more appropriate spaces for lactating mothers who need to pump? This has proven tricky…until now.  California lawmakers are stepping up their efforts to mandate safe and secure locations for nursing mothers to pump, and in 2019 we are facing stronger laws surrounding workplace lactation rooms so that nursing mothers can juggle the task of pumping with dignity.

Until recently, California state laws have required employers to provide a reasonable place to pump, with the law stating that this space should be somewhere “other than a toilet stall.”  While it was specified that a toilet stall would not suffice, many employers interpreted this to mean that designating other areas of the bathroom would keep them in compliance. No more.  The new law, Assembly Bill 1976, went into effect on January 1, and states that employers should “make reasonable efforts to provide an employee with use of a room or other location, other than a bathroom, for these purposes.” Narrowing the definition of a suitable lactation space closes the loophole,  removing the bathroom as an option altogether.

If an employer is found to not be in compliance, they may be fined $100 per violation of the law.  While there are loopholes surrounding circumstances where employers feel that meeting this need  is imposing “an undue hardship,” the laws are becoming much stricter in California.