The Best Cities for Breastfeeding Moms
Sometimes it seems we’re a divided nation with nothing in common but baseball and apple pie, but every corner of our country has a city committed to supporting breastfeeding moms at work and on the go. While the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) offers protections for many breastfeeding moms, and a number of states have even better levels of support (discover the best states for breastfeeding moms here), these cities are breast in class.
San Francisco, California
In 2018, San Francisco was the first U.S. city to implement a city-wide lactation law requiring all San Francisco employers to provide break time and a lactation space (other than a bathroom) to all breastfeeding employees. (FLSA only covers hourly employees). The law also sets minimum standards for lactation spaces, requiring that they space be clean, include a chair and a surface for a breast pump, and be located near a sink and a refrigerator where moms can store their milk. In addition, all San Francisco businesses must have a written lactation accommodation policy that outlines the process for requesting workplace support. (As a state, California is top-notch for breastfeeding mothers. Read more about California’s breastfeeding laws.)
The Windy City passed a law in 2015 requiring all large airports in Chicago to have a lactation space (other than a restroom) beyond security in every terminal. Not only was Chicago a year ahead of their own state—Illinois passed a version of the same law in 2016— they were five years ahead of the FAA law that will require more than 60 national airports to have lactation spaces in every terminal. Read more about Illinois’s breastfeeding laws.
San Antonio, Texas
The city of San Antonio is the second largest city in Texas and home of the Alamo. It’s also a great city to work for if you’re a breastfeeding mom. Their workplace lactation policy mandates a private space (not a bathroom) to pump for all public employees —from interns to full-time employees. The city employees almost 12,000 people! The best part? The city also provides hospital grade pumps to borrow in city lactations rooms and office spaces.
Dane County, home to Madison, is the second largest county in Wisconsin. In 2014 they passed a resolution requiring every county-owned building to provide a lactation space (other than a bathroom) that could be used by both the public employees who worked there and visitors to the spaces. While resolutions are not laws, per se, they matter because they express the clear will of the legislative body. And while every state has legislation to protect a mother’s right to breastfeed in public, Mad City takes it a step further with a breastfeeding ordinance that slaps a fine on anyone who tries to stop or interfere with a breastfeeding mama.
New York, New York
New York City law requires lactation spaces in departments that provide public services for families such as the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Administration for Children’s Services, and the Department of Social Services. In 2018, The Big Apple’s City Council also passed ten new bills—called The Mother’s Day bills—to improve services and support for moms and families. One of these new laws (Int. 879-A) requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide a dedicated lactation space (not a bathroom) for all employees (not just hourly). The other law (Int. 905-A) requires employers to provide breastfeeding employees with a written lactation accommodation policy to ensure moms know about their workplace rights. Both laws go into effect March 18, 2019. NYC’s local laws are in line with the rest of the state’s progressive legislation that ensures support for all nursing moms, including those in prison. Read more about New York’s breastfeeding laws.
It’s fitting that our nation’s capital is a beacon of support for working breastfeeding women. Employers in D.C. are required to support breastfeeding employees by providing break time and a space (other than a bathroom) to pump at work. Plus, the Department of Health is charged with monitoring and reporting on D.C. breastfeeding rates.
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