State and federal legislation about breastfeeding have been enacted to recognize and support the importance and practice of breastfeeding. Significant barriers to breastfeeding continue to persist in our communities. These barriers include social norms about breastfeeding in public, causing women embarrassment, and inflexibility in the workplace to express breast milk. Laws and regulations in Oregon address these barriers including breastfeeding in public, breastfeeding in the workplace, and exemption from jury duty.
Oregon Laws & Regulations
The majority of women of childbearing age are employed. Employed women are less likely to initiate breastfeeding, and they tend to breastfeed for a shorter length of time than women who are not in the workforce. Breastfeeding rates are improved among women who have support in the workplace. Most mothers who are employed and breastfeeding must express milk at work for their children and should have a private, clean space and time during the day to express milk.
Wage & Hour Law - Employee Rest Periods for Expression of Breast Milk
ORS 653.077 was signed into law May 8, 2007 and became effective January 1, 2008. Brief List of Requirements in the Final Rule:
- Effective January 1, 2008, employers with 25 or more employees must make reasonable efforts to provide private space and time for nursing mothers who request a place to express milk for their newborns 18 months of age and younger.
- The location must be in close proximity to the employee’s work area, and cannot be a toilet stall or restroom.
- Businesses would not necessarily have to have a dedicated lactation room. A vacant office or conference room could suffice, so long as it is private. A cubicle is not considered private.
- An employee must provide reasonable written or verbal notice to her employer that she intends to express breastmilk at work.
- All employers must comply unless they can prove it would cause undue hardship.
- There is a $1,000 fine per incident for non-compliance.
Click here for a detailed summary of the wage and hour law.
To Report Problems or Get Help
Mothers who have concerns about their employer’s compliance with the law, contact the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI), Wage and Hour Section.
Sample letter in English and Spanish, used to notify your employer of your plan to breastfeed when you come back to work.
Employers who want technical assistance, contact the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI), Wage and Hour Section.
The Oregon Minimum Wage poster--which states a worker's right to express milk--is available in English
BOLI also has a one-page Fact Sheet
Breastfeeding in Public
Women have a right to breastfeed in public, anywhere that they have a right to be. It's the law! Breastfeeding deserves protection since many women have been asked to stop breastfeeding or leave when in a public place. Such situations make women feel embarrassed and fearful of being stigmatized by people around them. Embarrassment remains a formidable barrier to breastfeeding. If a mother is ever challenged about her right to breastfeed in public, a wallet card stating the law can be downloaded or ordered on our Promotion page.
Exemption from Jury Duty
Oregon Rev. Stat. §§ 10.050 excuses breastfeeding mothers in Oregon from jury duty so long as they submit a written request.
For guidance on federal law, please go to the US Department of Labor Website.
photo courtesy of USBC