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State and federal legislation support and recognize the importance of breastfeeding. However, significant barriers to breastfeeding persist in our communities. Federal and Oregon laws and regulations address these barriers including breastfeeding in public, workplace support for breastfeeding, and jury duty.
Federal and Oregon state laws & regulations
Federal laws and regulations regarding break time for nursing mothers: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("Affordable Care Act") amended section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"). It requires employers to provide reasonable unpaid break time for employees to express breast milk each time the employee has a need to express the milk. For guidance on federal law, please visit the US Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division.
Oregon laws and regulations regarding expression of breast milk: Oregon Wage and Hour Law requires employers to provide a private place and unpaid employee rest periods for the expression of breast milk. This must be provided for mothers of children up to 18 months of age. ORS 653.077 was signed into law May 8, 2007, and took effect on January 1, 2008. For a summary of the law's requirements, see this technical assistance document issued by Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. Key requirements of the law include:
- Employers 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 do not need 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. See this sample letter in English or Spanish that can be used to notify an employer of plans to breastfeed upon return to 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.
For more information, view this detailed summary of the Wage and Hour Law.
To report problems or get help
Mothers who have concerns about their employer's compliance with Oregon law should contact the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI), Wage and Hour Section.
Employers who want technical assistance should also contact the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI), Wage and Hour Section.
Oregon law protects a mother's right to breastfeed in public
Women have a right to breastfeed in public anywhere that they have a right to be. It's the law! This protection is needed since women breastfeeding in a public place are often asked to stop, leave or cover up. Such situations make women feel embarrassed and fearful of being stigmatized by people around them. Embarrassment remains a formidable barrier to breastfeeding. We have developed a wallet card with information on the breastfeeding in public laws to assist breastfeeding mothers if they are challenged. These can be downloaded and printed or ordered on our Promotion page.
Exemption from jury duty
ORS §10.050 excuses breastfeeding mothers in Oregon from jury duty so long as they submit a written request.
photo courtesy of USBC