Breastfeeding Laws At Work in the United States (U.S.)

While the workplace laws vary state by state, all 50 states have some form of protection for public breastfeeding; that is, to protect a woman’s right to feed her child anywhere that she and her baby have a legal right to be. In short, if you’re allowed to be there, you’re allowed to breastfeed. 

 

The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act was amended in 2010 to include Section 7(r) that protects a woman’s right to express milk at work for one year after her child’s birth. In addition, the law mandates that employers provide reasonable break time and a private lactation space that is not a bathroom.  Key takeaways include:

 

  1. The amount of break time is not specified, meaning a mother can take as long as it takes her to pump. For some mothers this might be 15 minutes, but for others it is 30. Some mothers pump twice a day, some four times. “Reasonable” break time makes accommodation for variations in biology.

  2. The location cannot be a bathroom and must be free from intrusion.

  3. The breaks do not need to be paid.

  4. if the company has fewer than 50 employees and the breaks constitute a “hardship” to the employer, the requirements can be waived. This can be a challenging clause, and some states (including our own Vermont) have enacted additional protections to extend coverage to smaller companies. However, the burden of proof is on the employer to show that enforcement of the law would cause “undue hardship” - companies with fewer employees are not automatically exempted. More information can be found here.

 

The National Conference of State Legislators website provides a list of breastfeeding laws enacted by states, as well as some handy PDF documents that can be printed and given to employers, such as this one outlining the basics of the law, and this one, explaining how to file a complaint in cases of non-compliance.

 

A full list of state laws can also be found on the United States Department of Labor website.

Every state except Idaho protects a woman’s right to breastfeed her child in public.The laws vary from state to state, however, when it comes to workplace breastfeeding rights.

State by State:

 

Arkansas

Ark. Stat. Ann. § 11-5-116 (2009) requires an employer to provide reasonable unpaid break time each day to an employee who needs to express breast milk for her child and requires an employer to make a reasonable effort to provide a private, secure and sanitary room or other location other than a toilet stall where an employee can express her breast milk. (2009 Ark. Acts, Act 621, HB 1552).

 

California

Cal. Labor Code § 1030 et seq. (2001) provides that employers need to allow a break and provide a room for a mother who desires to express milk in private.

 

Cal. Assembly Concurrent Resolution 155 (1998) encourages the state and employers to support and encourage the practice of breastfeeding by striving to accommodate the needs of employees, and by ensuring that employees are provided with adequate facilities for breastfeeding and expressing milk for their children. The resolution memorializes the governor to declare by executive order that all state employees be provided with adequate facilities for breast feeding and expressing milk.

 

 

San Francisco

The City and County of San Francisco Department provides of Lactation in the Workplace Policy for City employees. The policy mandates that breastfeeding employees receive a reasonable break time time to express milk upon their return to work from maternity leave and a lactation space that is not a toilet. The lactation space must be a clean and comfortable space free from intrusion and equipped with an electrical outlet.

Lactation in the Workplace Policy

Request for Lactation Accommodation

 

San Francisco has expanded their existing protections for nursing mothers with the Lactation in the Workplace Ordinance. The Ordinance applies to all private employers in San Francisco, and requires employers to provide a lactation area that is clean, contains a chair and surface for a breast pump, and has access to electricity. 

San Francisco Approves New Protections for Nursing Mothers in the Workplace

 

Airports

Public airports of specified flight volume shall provide a room or other location at each airport terminal behind the airport security screening area for members of the public to express breast milk in private. The room shall be outside the confines of a restroom and include a minimum of one chair and an electrical outlet.

ARTICLE 6. Airports [50470 - 50479]

Colorado

Colo. Rev. Stat. § 8-13.5-101 et seq. (2008) require an employer to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for up to two years after the child's birth.  The employer must make reasonable efforts to provide a place, other than a toilet stall, for the employee to express breast milk in privacy.  The law also requires the Department of Labor and Employment to provide, on its website, information and links to other websites where employers can access information regarding methods to accommodate nursing mothers in the workplace. (2008 Colo., Sess. Laws, Chap. 106, HB 1276)

 

Connecticut

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-40w (2001) requires employers to provide a reasonable amount of time each day to an employee who needs to express breast milk for her infant child and to provide accommodations where an employee can express her milk in private. (HF 5656) 

 

Delaware

Delaware Code Ann. tit. 19, § 710-11. Discrimination in Employment. Delaware law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, which includes discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or a related condition, including breastfeeding. "Reasonable accommodation" available under this subchapter may include, but are not limited to, acquisition of equipment for sitting, more frequent or longer breaks, periodic rest, assistance with manual labor, job restructuring, light duty assignments, modified work schedules, temporary transfers to less strenuous or hazardous work, time off to recover from childbirth, or break time and appropriate facilities for expressing breast milk. 

 

District of Columbia

Employers are prohibited from discriminating against women on the basis of breastfeeding and pregnancy-related medical conditions.

 

The law also specifies that an employer shall provide reasonable daily unpaid break periods, as required by the employee, so that the employee may express breast milk for her child.  These break periods shall run concurrently with any break periods that may already be provided to the employee.  Requires that an employer make reasonable efforts to provide a sanitary room or other location, other than a bathroom or toilet stall, where an employee can express her breast milk in privacy and security.  The location may include a childcare facility in close proximity to the employee's work location.  (2007 D.C. Stat., Chap. 17-58; B 133)

 

Georgia

Ga. Code § 34-1-6 (1999) allows employers to provide daily unpaid break time for a mother to express breast milk for her infant child. Employers are also required to make a reasonable effort to provide a private location, other than a toilet stall, in close proximity to the workplace for this activity. The employer is not required to provide break time if to do so would unduly disrupt the workplace operations.

 

Hawaii

It is unlawful discriminatory practice for any employer or labor organization to refuse to hire or employ, bar or discharge from employment, withhold pay from, demote or penalize a lactating employee because an employee breastfeeds or expresses milk at the workplace. (2000 Hawaii Sess. Laws, Act 227; HB 2774)

Hawaii Rev. Stat. § 378-2 

 

2013 Hawaii Sess. Laws. Act. 249 requires specified employers to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express milk for a nursing child in a location, other than a bathroom, that is sanitary, shielded from view and free from intrusion. The law also requires employers to post notice of the application of this law in a conspicuous place accessible to employees. (SB 532)

 

Illinois

An employer must provide reasonable daily unpaid break time for an employee to express breast milk, unless doing so would unduly disrupt the employer's business. If possible, such break time must run concurrently with the employee's ordinary break time.

820 Ill. Comp. Stat. 260/10.

 

Employers must make reasonable efforts to provide employees with a private space close to their work area, other than a toilet stall, where they can express milk.

820 Ill. Comp. Stat. 820 § 260/15.

 

All public schools must provide breastfeeding students with reasonable break time and a dedicated space to pump milk. 

 

Chicago

 

Airports

The commissioner of aviation shall provide and designate a room or other location at each airport terminal behind the airport security screening area for members of the public to express breast milk in private. Each room or other location shall be located outside of the confines of a public restroom and shall include, at a minimum: a lockable door, a chair, a table, an electrical outlet, and a sink with running water.

Municipal Code Chapter 10-36. Section 10-36-345

Indiana

Ind. Code  § 16-35-6-1 allows a woman to breastfeed her child anywhere the law allows her to be. 

 

Ind. Code § 22-2-14-2 and Ind. Code § 5-10-6-2 provide that state and political subdivisions shall provide for reasonable paid breaks for an employee to express breast milk for her infant, make reasonable efforts to provide a room or other location, other than a toilet stall, where the employee can express breast milk in private and make reasonable efforts to provide for a refrigerator to keep breast milk that has been expressed.  The law also provides that employers with more than 25 employees must provide a private location, other than a toilet stall, where an employee can express the employee's breast milk in private and if possible to provide a refrigerator for storing breast milk that has been expressed.

Louisiana

La. Code §2247.1 says that a mother may breastfeed her baby in any public place—"notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary"—and calls for society to take steps to normalize breastfeeding.

 

But the only state law applies to employees of public schools. Louisiana school boards are required to provide nursing employees with a private room to express breast milk, and a reasonable amount of break time to do so, for up to one year after the birth of the child. If possible, the break time must occur during the employee's ordinary break time; any additional leave will be unpaid. La. Rev. Stat. § 17:81(W).

 

Maine

Employers may not discriminate against employees who choose to express breast milk in the workplace. Employers must provide adequate unpaid break time, or allow an employee to use her paid break time, to express breast milk for up to three years following childbirth. The employer must make reasonable efforts to provide a clean, private place, other than a bathroom, for an employee to express breast milk. This applies to all employers.

Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 26, § 604.

 

Massachusetts

Chapter 54 of the Acts of 2017. Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act provides needed and reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers throughout Massachusetts. 
 

Minnesota

Requires employers to provide daily, unpaid break time for a mother to express breast milk for her infant child. Employers are also required to make a reasonable effort to provide a private location, other than a bathroom or toilet stall, in close proximity to the workplace that is shielded from view, free from intrusion and has an electrical outlet. The law specifies that an employer may not retaliate against an employee for asserting rights or remedies under this act.

Minn. Stat. § 181.939.

Mississippi

Mississippi prohibits against discrimination towards breastfeeding mothers who use lawful break time to express milk.

Miss. Code Ann. § 71-1-55

Montana

Mont. Code Ann. § 39-2-215 et seq. specifies that employers must not discriminate against breastfeeding mothers and must encourage and accommodate breastfeeding.  Requires employers to provide daily unpaid break time for a mother to express breast milk for her infant child and facilities for storage of the expressed milk. Employers are also required to make a reasonable effort to provide a private location, other than a toilet stall, in close proximity to the work place for this activity

 

New Jersey

Businesses must provide break time and a suitable location for breastfeeding women to express milk in private. 

New Jersey Assembly Bill 2294

New Mexico

N.M. Stat. Ann. § 28-20-2 (2007) requires employers to provide a clean, private place, not a bathroom, for employees who are breastfeeding to pump.  Also requires that the employee be given breaks to express milk, but does not require that she be paid for this time.

 

New York

Employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees who express breast milk in the workplace. They must also provide reasonable unpaid break time, or allow employees to use paid break or meal time, for employees to express breast milk for their nursing children, for up to three years following the child's birth. Employers must make reasonable efforts to provide employees with a private space near their work area where they can express milk. This applies to all employers.

N.Y. Labor Law § 206-c.

 

New York City

The Bill amends the administrative codes of the City of New York and requires that the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Administration for Children’s Services, and the Department of Social Services make a lactation room available at a number of locations that serve members of the public. The lactation room needs to be a sanitary space that is not a bathroom and offer a chair, electrical outlet, and nearby access to running water.

Chapter 1 of title 17 § 17-199.

Oregon

Upon receiving reasonable notice, employers are required to provide reasonable unpaid rest periods for female employees to express milk. Unless otherwise agreed upon, these breaks must be thirty minutes long during each four-hour shift, and taken somewhere in the middle of the shift. If feasible, the employee is to use her otherwise provided meal or rest breaks for these purposes. Employers are not required to do so if it would impose an undue hardship on their business operations. Employers must also make reasonable efforts to provide a private location near the employee's work area, other than a restroom, for her to express milk. These requirements only apply to employers with twenty-five or more employees in Oregon, and for employees breastfeeding their children eighteen months old or younger.

Or. Rev. Stat. § 653.077.

Pennsylvania

No specific breastfeeding laws at the state level.

 

Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance requires employers to reasonably accommodate an employee’s need to express breast milk as long as the accommodation does not impose an “undue hardship” on the employer. Reasonable accommodations include: providing unpaid break time, allowing an employee to use paid break, mealtime, or both to express milk, and providing a private, sanitary space that is not a bathroom.

Philadelphia Code § 9-1103(m)

Puerto Rico

Upon returning from maternity leave, women must be given the opportunity either to breastfeed their children at an on-site child care center or to express milk for an hour each full-time working day, which can be divided into two thirty-minute sessions or three twenty-minute sessions. This applies to all employers except small businesses, as defined by the Small Business Administration, who only need to provide one half-hour break per day, which can be divided into two fifteen-minute sessions. This applies to employees with nursing children up to one year of age.

P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 29, §§ 478 et seq.

Rhode Island

Employers are required to make reasonable efforts to provide a private, secure and sanitary place close to an employee's work area, other than a toilet stall, where an employee can express milk or breastfeed. This applies to all employers.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 23-13.2-1.

Tennessee

Employers are required to provide reasonable daily unpaid break time to employees who need to express breast milk for their infant children unless doing so would unduly disrupt the employer's business. If possible, this break shall run concurrently with any other break time already provided. Employers must make reasonable efforts to provide employees with a private space close to their work area, other than a toilet stall, to express breast milk. This law applies to all employers.

Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-1-305.

Texas

No specific breastfeeding laws at the state level.
 

Sunset Valley

The City of Sunset Valley offers a workplace lactation support policy that mandates a work environment that is supportive of lactating mothers and encourages breastfeeding of their children up to one year following their birth.

 

The City of Sunset Valley shall provide a mixed use space, other than a bathroom, for lactating mothers, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public. The space shall have at a minimum a locking door, an electrical outlet, a clean work surface, a comfortable chair and access to a safe water source and a sink within a reasonable distance.

Ordinance, Section 9.15

 

San Antonio

The City of San Antonio’s Administrative Directive 4.15 Workplace Milk Expression stipulates that the City provide breastfeeding employees with accessible, adequate and private facilities other than a restroom for breast milk expression. Each Lactation Room or designated office space will be free from intrusion, either by the use of a locked door, or restricted entry access devices.

Administrative Workplace Directive 4.15

Vermont

Employers must provide nursing employees provide reasonable compensated or uncompensated time throughout the day for nursing mothers to express breast milk, as well as a private space other than a bathroom in which to do so, for up to three years after the birth of the child, unless doing so would constitute a substantial disruption to the employer's business. Employers cannot discriminate against employees who exercise this right.

Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 21, § 305.

Wisconsin

No specific breastfeeding laws at the state level.

 

Dane County

Dane County resolution declares that one room, other than a restroom, will be clearly designated in every County-owned building as a place for nursing or expressing milk privately. The resolution further dictates that each such room will be equipped with an air exchange, lighting, an electrical outlet, a chair, a lockable door.

Resolution Providing Lactation Rooms