Beginning January 1, 2020, SB 142 (Wiener), Chapter 720, imposes numerous lactation accommodation rules on California employers.

This new law requires an employer to provide a lactation room or location that includes prescribed features and requires an employer, among other things, to provide access to a sink and refrigerator in close proximity to the employee’s workspace. The law deems denial of reasonable break time or adequate space to express milk a failure to provide a rest period.

The law prohibits 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 establishes remedies that include filing a complaint with the Labor Commissioner. The new law does authorize employers with fewer than 50 employees to seek an exemption from the requirements of these provisions if the employer demonstrates that the requirement poses an undue hardship by causing the employer significant difficulty or expense.

The new law requires an employer to develop and implement a policy regarding lactation accommodation and make it available to employees. In dealing with a multitenant building or multiemployer worksite, an employer can comply with the requirements of the law by providing a space shared among multiple employers within the building or worksite if the employer cannot provide a lactation location within the employer’s own workspace. There is also a special rule when dealing with subcontractor’s employees.

SB 142 provides that an employer may comply with this mandate by designating a lactation location that is temporary due to operational, financial or space limitations, but these temporary spaces cannot be a bathroom and must be in close proximity to the employee’s work area. Also, the temporary location must be shielded from view, free from intrusion while the employee is expressing mile, and be otherwise compliant with the remaining provisions of this law.

An employee may report a violation of this chapter to the Labor Commissioner’s field enforcement unit. And the Labor Commissioner may impose a civil penalty of $100 for each day that an employee is denied reasonable break time or adequate space to express milk.

Chris Micheli is an attorney and legislative advocate with the Sacrament governmental relations firm of Aprea & Micheli, Inc. He can be reached at (916) 448-2075 or