State and federal laws recognize the importance of breastfeeding
These laws and regulations address barriers to breastfeeding by requiring workplace support for breastfeeding, affirming a woman’s 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 mothers. The law that provides the greater protection to nursing mothers is what applies. Federal law does not preempt state law.
- 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 fewer than 50 employees across the whole state can ask the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) to be exempt because of undue hardship.
- There is a $1000 fine per incident for non-compliance that can be imposed by BOLI.
- Age of child: up to 18 months.
- Time: Requires reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child each time the employee has a need to express the milk. Employers must count pumping time for the purpose of determining eligibility for health insurance.
- 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 nursing mother’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 nursing mother 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
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.
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 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.