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Pregnancy, breast-feeding should not cause woes in the workplace

Pregnancy is an exciting time for many women. Of course, the thought of being responsible for another being may be somewhat intimidating, but becoming a mother and raising a family is also a very rewarding experience.

For many Los Angeles women, their duties as mothers include working outside of the home so that they can contribute to their families' financial needs. Women who are raising children or expecting a new child understand that it is very important that they keep their jobs so that they can continue to support their families. Working moms should never have to worry about losing their jobs as a result of their responsibilities outside of work or because they are pregnant.

Fortunately, California acknowledges that pregnant and working mothers need important protections in the workplace in order to prevent sex discrimination and pregnancy discrimination. In fact, California has enacted some of the strongest anti-discrimination laws to protect women and moms when compared to other states.

One issue that has stirred much debate in the U.S. is breast-feeding. Sadly, mothers have had to request better laws to protect women who want and need to breast-feed in public places or in the workplace. One woman who is currently filing a lawsuit against her employer for sex discrimination was fired for asking to use a room at work where she could pump during the day while she was still nursing her baby.

The woman's employer claims that breast-feeding is not a pregnancy-related issue; therefore, the employee was not protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits pregnancy discrimination, when she was fired. Earlier this year, a judge sided with the woman's former employer. Many were shocked by the judge's ruling but the woman is still fighting her case.

To better clarify nursing mothers' rights in the workplace, California employment and labor laws state that lactation discrimination is illegal. Pregnancy should not cause a woman to lose her job, and neither should breast-feeding. Just two years ago, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act was amended to include reasonable breaks for employees who need to pump breast milk during the work day while they nurse their children.

Source: Workforce.com, "'Great Texas Lactation Case' Debates Whether Breast-Milk Pumping Is a Pregnancy Related Condition," Matthew Heller, Aug. 23, 2012

•Our firm handles similar situations to the one discussed in this post. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our Los Angeles / Long Beach pregnancy discrimination page. Pregnancy discrimination is against the law.

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