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Breastfeeding can get you fired from your job

Employers have long been criticized for providing their breastfeeding employees with inadequate time or accommodations to allow them to pump as needed during their work day. A study published just last month shows that the treatment of nursing moms goes far beyond being discriminatory - it also often results in them losing their job.

Nursing Mothers Law Project researchers with the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California's Hastings College of Law published a study last month about how breastfeeding moms are treated in the workplace.

They found that two-thirds of nursing mothers who've reported being discriminated against in the workplace for breastfeeding have ended up being let go from their jobs by their employers.

In speaking with many nursing mothers who were fired, a large number were subjected to sexual harassment in the form of derogatory comments made about their breasts. Some refused to set aside a private area where the employee could pump. Others denied their requests to go on break when they were leaking milk or in significant pain.

Many were fired after asking for breaks, a place to pump or temporary job reassignments.

Even if workers weren't let go from their jobs, they were penalized financially. The researchers found three-quarters of the nursing mothers who were allowed to retain their jobs were either forced to take unpaid breaks to pump or were scheduled for fewer hours.

Researchers also found that nursing mothers who work in male-dominated fields were responsible for filing 43 percent of all breastfeeding discrimination lawsuits. They also found that companies that employed nursing mothers tended to doubt the quality of the work that their employees could perform.

Both California and federal laws exist to protect a nursing mother's right to be given time out of their workday and a clean space to pump, yet they vary from state to state. There are many forms of discrimination or harassment that a Redondo Beach employer may engage in that are against the law. A workplace harassment attorney can advise you how explicit that discrimination needs to be to prove your case and how you should respond to it from that point forward.

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It can be hard to take the first steps in these cases when your livelihood is at stake, but know that you have rights available to you. Let us help you determine what you can do to bring an end to your employer's unlawful behavior.