2019 Brings New Lactation Accommodation Requirements for Employers

Chris Micheli
Chris Micheli is a Principal with the Sacramento governmental relations firm of Aprea & Micheli, Inc.

AB 1976 (Limon) takes effect on January 1, 2019 to require an employer to make reasonable efforts to provide an employee wishing to express breast milk in private with an area in close proximity to her workspace that is not a bathroom.

Existing California law requires every employer to provide a reasonable amount of break time to accommodate an employee desiring to express breast milk for the employee’s infant child and requires an employer to make reasonable efforts to provide the employee with the use of a room or other location, other than a toilet stall, in close proximity to the employee’s work area for the employee to express milk in private.

AB 1976 instead requires an employer to make reasonable efforts to provide an employee with use of a room or other location, other than a bathroom, for these purposes. An employer will be deemed to be following this provision of law if all four of the following conditions are met:

* • The employer is unable to provide a permanent lactation location because of operational, financial, or space limitations.
* • The temporary lactation location is private and free from intrusion while an employee expresses milk.
* • The temporary lactation location is used only for lactation purposes while an employee expresses milk.
* • The temporary lactation location otherwise meets the requirements of state law concerning lactation accommodation.

In addition, the new law provides the following hardship exemption for employers: “If an employer can demonstrate to the department that the requirement to provide the employee with the use of a room or other location, other than a bathroom would impose an undue hardship when considered in relation to the size, nature, or structure of the employer’s business, an employer shall make reasonable efforts to provide an employee with the use of a room or other location, other than a toilet stall, in close proximity to the employee’s work area, for the employee to express milk in private.”

Of note to employers is that existing law makes a violation of these provisions subject to a civil penalty and makes the Labor Commissioner responsible for enforcement.

Chris Micheli is an attorney and legislative advocate for the Sacramento governmental relations firm of Aprea & Micheli, Inc. He can be reached at 916-448-3075.

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