Employer Providing a Place to Pump

Archived Q&A and Reviews

HR says my employer doesn't have to provide pumping room

Nov 2004

I'm rearing myself up for a nice battle with my employer over setting up a room for me to pump. I'm 7 months preggo and I talked to the HR rep who was totally useless and unhelpful. She said that my company didn't have to follow the breastfeeding law, even after I showed her that the law wasn't subject to a minimum # of employees. She said it would ''be up to the principal of the company''. Well! I'm armed with the labor codes, but am having a tough time talking about what it is I want, and finding case law or examples for this.

I talked to the head of HR corporate who also suggested that perhaps I'd feel better walking a mile or so to the nearest construction trailer and pumping in the bathroom. Once I asked her if that's where she eats her lunch, she realized that I meant business.

HR has been saying that ''reasonable effort'' is subject to interpretation. I think for them, that means that they do nothing.

I work in an open cube, we have no break room. All the offices are taken and have clear windows all around. I'm just looking for a door with a lock, an outlet, and a chair. However, since they are being mean, I'm thinking that I'd like to see what the law states before I short-change myself.

I know there has to be someone out there that had a ''list of demands''. Naturally, it's an all-male construction company. But hey, that's the cost of doing business in CA. It's the law, pure and simple. I'm not asking for anything special, just what is best.

I haven't talked to the principal yet, as this has been strictly an HR battle.

Thanks in advance. mommy to be

I'm sorry that I don't have any specific advice for you, but I did want to reply anyway. More POWER to you for standing up for yourself, your baby, and nursing mothers everywhere!!! I'd imagine La Leche League would have some resources for you as well. Good Luck! M

Setting Up a Place at Work to Pump

April 2004

I've seen the archived postings on the website related to pumping at work and on UC campus, but I was curous if anyone has any experience actually setting up an appropriate place to pump at their workplace -- my office, made up mostly of older males, does not have an appropriate place to pump (everyone works in a cubicle, there are no private offices that we can ''borrow''). When my co-worker asked about where she should pump, the HR person recommended that she try a shower stall in the ladies locker room or a couch in the womens restroom.. of course, neither of these places are private and we find these solutions to be unacceptable. Is there a law stating that breastfeedig women must have a private place to pump, or is it just up to company policy? Should we just deal with the options that we have and get over it? What kind of resources are out there that we can consult to about making a policy change in our office? Any advice is greatly appreciated! anon

Bill AB 1025 says, (along with other things,) that 'Employers would also be required to provide the use of a room, or other location, other than a toilet stall, in close proximity to the employees' work area.' Please check out the full text of the bill & go present it to your HR department who really should know better! Also, do not discount the potential usefulness of your male colleagues. Some of them may have had partners who pumped at work and would be informed & helpful. I know my husband got way more information than he wanted, but he put that information to use when a member of his team needed to pump. Good luck. KB

See web site: http://www.wicworks.ca.gov/breastfeeding/Legislation/BFLaws.html

If I understand correctly, re the Lactation Accommodation law: ''This law requires all California employers to provide a reasonable amount of break time and make a reasonable effort to provide a private space, other than a toilet stall, close to the employee's work area, to accommodate an employee desiring to express breastmilk for her baby.'' Good luck. anon

At both my previous and my present workplace, I was the first woman to be given a private place to pump. In both cases, when I first approached HR, they suggested the bathroom. I refused to pump there. I was very nice about it, not combative, but said I had a real hang-up about it and didn't feel it was clean. (Since then I think I've read that employers of a certain size are required to provide non-bathroom pumping places.)

In the end, both workplaces' HR people went out of their way to find me a nice place for pumping. At the first location, they let me pump in the private HR file room, which was locked with a key. There was a small table in there and an electrical outlet for my pump, but no sink or refrigerator. I just took my horns, tubes, etc into the ladies room to wash out after pumping. I guess in hindsight this wasn't as clean/sterile as I would have liked but I was grateful to have the space.

My current employer cleared out one of two coffee/break rooms, which included a fridge and a sink (yippee!) and gave it to me for my exclusive use, with key. I was extremely pleased with this arrangement. There was some kvetching from some of the guys on that side of the building that they now had to walk across the floor to get coffee, but they got used to it... one older man even said, red-faced, ''I know what you're doing in there. Good for you.''

I'm pleased to report that both pumping locations have been used by other nursing moms in the years since I've stopped pumping.

Since this is an ''advice'' column I will tell you what worked best for me - being sweet-as-honey nice about asking for the pumping space, rather than demanding it - even though I knew I was entitled to it. I think HR people really get sick of people getting in their faces about their rights, and I feel like if I had approached it that way, I might have ended up with a broom closet.

Best of luck ! milky way

Check with your HR department at work. I believe businesses of 50+ employees are required to provide a private place to pump for nursing mothers. With my second child, my company provided a vacant office and taped brown paper over the windows for privacy and put a do not disturb sign on the door. While it was nice to have the privacy, I actually preferred pumping in the ladies room (which is what I did with my first child) because it was nice to have easy access to the sink. I just brought a long extension cord and went into one of the bathroom stalls. I was a quick pumper -- just two 10-minute sessions a day - so I didn't find it uncomfortable. I also enjoyed getting away for a break to just think about my baby. I did this for 9 months for each of my children. I didn't think I'd be able to do it (I can be kind of high-maintenance and cranky), but I actually enjoyed it.

There is a law stating that employers have to provide a place to pump and it can't be the bathroom. I'm sure someone will post the law. I can't find my info on it, but I researched it two years ago. They need to allow you a place to close the door and have privacy. past pumper

I just received additional info regarding this: This law is called the Lactation Accomodation and is Chapter 3.8 of the California State Labor Code Chapter 3.8 (1031) ''The employer shall 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. The room or location may include the place where the employee normally works if it otherwise meets the requirements of this section'' For more information on labor standards call the Industrial Relations Department: (415) 703-5300 Holly

A new state law went into effect last year that requires larger employers to provide a room for pumping and nursing. UC is complying with the law, and apparently there are several designated places on campuses with electric pumps. Contact health services for more information. Good luck.

Yes, this is covered by law!


Note that the employer must provide a place where you can pump IN PRIVATE.

There are a number of organizations that can provide you with materials to give your employer and other advocacy assistance, though I'm not sure exactly who's out there locally. Try contacting La Leche League and/or WIC. The Motherwear catalog (www.motherwear.com) also has a package of related literature. Holly

There is actually a law that says that the employer HAS TO provide a place for a lactating mother to express milk OTHER THAN the TOILET!! I know because myself and two other employees in our office all had newborns around the same time and so our employer was forced to accomodate us and look into the law. We didn't have a spare office either, but were given the ability to use a small library archive room, which wasn't real comfortable, but at least it was private. There was no lock on the door though and no outlet, so we had to run a cord from outside the room and put a big sign on the door ''DO NOT ENTER.'' And then there was the loud noise of the pump machine echoing down the hallway. It is a small office of mostly male attorneys, so this was a little strange, but most all of them have wives with little kids, so not a one batted an eyelash at the whole thing. Make sure you let your employer know about this law. It is human resources job to research this and do the right thing for you. Here is one website that will hopefully help you be better educated: http://www.breastfeedingtaskforla.org/breastfeeding-laws.htm Best of luck! Holly

Wow - I could have written your message 2 years ago. I was advised by my building manager (at UCOP, of all places!) to ''schedule in advance, if it was not already reserved by another group'' a general use conference room several floors away from my cubicle for pumping. I remember thinking that was about as convenient as scheduling in advance my restroom visits. Then after some online research with a friend at work I learned there is indeed a California law that requires employers to provide private, reasonable lactation accomodation. It is AB 1025, Frommer, passed in October 2001 (see http://www.breastfeedingtaskforla.org/resources/ab1025.pdf). When I reminded my University of California employers of their legal obligations, via their Employee Labor Relations department, they quickly complied. Molly

California law states that your employer (1) must allow you to take a reasonable amount of break time to express milk, and (2) must provide the use of a private place to express milk, other than a toilet stall, near your work area. I suggest that you inform your employer of these laws (see California Labor Code Sections 1030-1033), and if they fail to comply, contact the California Labor Commissioner for assistance. Anon

Would your supervisors eat their lunch in a bathroom stall or even on a couch in a bathroom? No! You should not be forced to pump in the bathroom! There is a law that you should be provided with a place to pump. anonymous

Your employer by law must provide a place for you to pump, and that does not mean a bathroom stall, or shower. Annon.

As of Jan 1, 2002, employers are required to provide a private place that is not a bathroom stall to allow women to express milk. http://www.lalecheleague.org/Law/Bills11.html describes current California laws regarding breastfeeding. anon

A couple of weeks ago someone posted a question regarding any laws that require employers to provide a place for nursing moms to pump (she was having issues at her job, which is male-dominated). I can't find that original message, but it would be great if you could post this:

California passed a law back in October of 2001 (AB 1025) adding a new section to the CA Labor Code requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodations to nursing mothers. Here's a link to the bill that was signed into law:


Thanks much, Patricia