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Laws – Pregnancy, Chest/breastfeeding and Lactation

State and federal laws and regulations

State and federal laws and regulations support breastfeeding/chestfeeding by reducing barriers through:
  • Requiring workplace support 
  • Prohibiting discrimination in pregnancy and during lactation
  • Affirming the right to breastfeed/chestfeed in public (including public swimming pools)
  • Providing jury duty exemption

Workplace Laws
Both Oregon and federal laws ensure workplace support for pregnant and breastfeeding/chestfeeding employees. The law that provides the greater protection to nursing employees is what applies. Federal law does not preempt state law​

Oregon Laws
  • Rest Periods for Expression of Milk, (2007; amended 2019) requires employers to support lactating employees by providing break time and space (other than a public restroom or toilet stall) to express milk at work for the employee's child 18 months of age or younger. 
    • An employer will make a reasonable effort to provide the employee with a private location within 'close proximity' to the employee's work area to express milk. 'Close proximity' definition:
      • Rest Periods for Expression of Milk 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. 

  • Amendment provisions 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.
    • Employees no longer require/must adhere to a fixed amount of time for expressing milk. The employer shall provide the employee a reasonable rest period to express milk each time the employee has a need to express milk; the frequency, timing and length of breaks will vary depending on the needs of the worker.
    • Employers with 10 or fewer employees may request an exemption if they can prove 'undue hardship' to business operations. 

  • Accommodations for Pregnancy Related Conditions, including lactation (2020). Employers with 6 or more employees must provide reasonable accommodation including but not limited to:
    • Acquisition or modification of equipment or devices
    • More frequent or longer break periods or periodic rest
    • Assistance with manual labor
    • Modification of work schedules or job assignments

  • Paid Leave Oregon (2023). Ensures individuals, employers, and families of every kind have the time and support they need to care for themselves and their loved ones when they need it most.
    • Covers family, medical and safe leave up to 12 weeks
    • If pregnant, in some situations, an employee may be able to take up to 2 more weeks for a total of 14 weeks​​
  • ​Resources

Federal Laws
Pregancy and postpartum
  • The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 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
    • The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (2013) held that firing a woman because she is lactating or expressing milk is unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
  • Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) (2023) A civil rights law requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodations for known limitations stemming from pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions, including lactation, without facing discrimination or retaliation, to pregnant and postpartum workers. Examples include:
    • A stool or seat
    • Help with heavy lifting
    • Additional breaks that enable them to continue working safely
  • 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/chestfeeding mothers and parents (2010).​
  • ​​PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act (2023). Expands rights to 9 million additional workers, protecting the right to a reasonable break time for nursing employees and a private space to pump at work that is not a bathroom.
    • Expands these essential workplace rights to teachers, nurses, farmworkers, and more
    • Makes it possible for an employee to file a lawsuit if their employer does not comply with the law

How can I report a problem or get help with workplace accomodation?

Pregnancy accommodations: 

Workers and employers who have concerns about compliance with Oregon law should contact the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI), 971-673-0761 or email

Expression of human milk: 

Workers and employers who have concerns about compliance with Oregon law should contact the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI), 971-673-0761 or email

Free Legal Helplines:

Oregon Laws and Regulations (not workplace)

Am I allowed to breastfeed in public?

Am I allowed to breastfeed in a public pool?

Am I exempt from jury duty? 


  • Excuse from jury duty allowed for lactating parents and mothers in Oregon so long as they submit a written request.

Disclaimer: This website is not intended as legal advice