State and federal laws recognize the importance of breastfeeding
These laws and regulations address barriers to breastfeeding by requiring workplace support for breastfeeding, prohibiting discrimination, affirming the right to breastfeed in public (including public swimming pools) and jury duty exemption.
Oregon and federal workplace laws
Both Oregon and federal laws ensure workplace support for breastfeeding employees. The law that provides the greater protection to nursing employees is what applies. Federal law does not preempt state law.
- Oregon law Rest Periods for Expression of Milk, passed in 2007, requires all employers to support breastfeeding employees by providing break time and space (other than a bathroom) to pump at work. An amendment to this law, HB 2593, became effective September 29, 2019. New provisions in this amendment include:
- If an employee does not provide notice to the employer about the need to express milk before returning to work, it is not grounds for discipline
- The employer shall provide the employee a reasonable rest period to express milk each time the employee has a need to express milk (the law used to require a fixed amount of time for expressing milk)
- Employers with 10 or fewer employees may request an exemption if they can prove 'undue hardship' to business operations.
- Technical assistance for employers: 'Breaks: Rest Periods for Expression of Breast Milk'
- Oregon law relating to workplace Accomodations for Pregnancy Related Conditions, including lactation, HB 2341, effective January 1, 2020. This law covers all employers with 6 or more employees.
- In March 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act amended Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to provide a break time and space requirement for breastfeeding mothers.
- For guidance on federal law, see the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division guidance.
- The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 - Title VII of the Civil Rights Act: The Pregnancy
Discrimination Act, 1978, amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to
prohibit sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, and related
medical conditions. In 2013, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth
Circuit held that firing a woman because she is lactating or expressing milk is
unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
- Questions and answers about the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) enforcement guidance on pregnancy discrimination and related issues.
Based on Oregon and federal law:
- Requirement to meet lactation accommodation applies to all employers. Only employers with 10 or fewer employees can apply for an exemption from the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) because of undue hardship to their business.
- There is a $1000 fine per incident for non-compliance that can be imposed by BOLI.
- Age of child: up to 18 months.
- Time: The employer shall provide the employee a reasonable rest period to express milk each time the employee has a need to express milk.
- Space: The location must be in close proximity to the employee’s work area, and cannot be a toilet stall or restroom. The space needs to be shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public. The space provided needs to be functional as a space for expressing breast milk. If the space is not dedicated to the employee’s use, it must be available when needed in order to meet the statutory requirement. A space temporarily created or converted into a space or made available when needed by the employee is sufficient.
View a detailed summary of Oregon versus federal workplace support law.
Exposed: Discrimination Against Breastfeeding Workers
Report a problem or get help with workplace accommodation
Pregnancy accommodations: Workers and employers who have concerns about compliance with Oregon law should contact the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI).
Expression of breastmilk: Workers and employers who have concerns about compliance with Oregon law should contact the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI).
- OAR 839-020-0051 defines 'close proximity' as walking distance from the employee's work area that does not appreciably shorten the rest or meal period.
- In addition, if a private location is not within close proximity to the employee's work area, the employer may not include the time taken to travel to and from the location as part of the break period.
Right to breastfeed in public law
ORS §109.001 gives women the right to breastfeed their child in a public place. This protection is needed since women breastfeeding in a public place may be asked to stop, leave or cover up, causing embarrassment and stigmatization. Embarrassment remains a barrier to breastfeeding.
Public Law No.116-30 is the Fairness for Breastfeeding Mothers Act. This Act requires that certain federal buildings that contain a public restroom also provide a lactation room, other than a bathroom, that is hygenic and available for use by a member of the public.
Public pool regulations
Breastfeeding is allowed in a public swimming pool or deck area at the mother’s discretion.
See this guidance for more information.
Jury duty exemption
ORS §10.050 excuses breastfeeding mothers in Oregon from jury duty so long as they submit a written request.