Federal Law

Public Breastfeeding Law

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a woman may breastfeed her child at any location in a Federal building or on Federal property, if the woman and her child are otherwise authorized to be present at the location.

Enforcement Provision


Workplace Pumping Law

Section 7(r) of the Fair Labor Standards Act – Break Time for Nursing Mothers Provision
Effective March 23, 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act amended the FLSA to require employers to provide a nursing mother reasonable break time to express breast milk after the birth of her child. The amendment also requires that employers provide a place for an employee to express breast milk.
Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. 207) is amended by adding at the end the following:

An employer shall provide—
a reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk; and
a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.

An employer shall not be required to compensate an employee receiving reasonable break time under paragraph (1) for any work time spent for such purpose.

An employer that employs less than 50 employees shall not be subject to the requirements of this subsection, if such requirements would impose an undue hardship by causing the employer significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to the size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the employer’s business.

Nothing in this subsection shall preempt a State law that provides greater protections to employees than the protections provided for under this subsection.

Enforcement Provision

None or unclear. See http://www.sustainablemothering.com/2010/05/10/curb-your-enthusiasm-about-the-new-federal-workplace-pumping-law/

94 Responses to “Federal Law”

  1. […] to breastfeed anywhere that they or their babies have a right to feed. This would both match the federal law regarding breastfeeding on federal property but also show mothers in uniform that breastfeeding is […]

  2. Vanessa says:

    I think there should be no problem or reason to discriminate a breastfeeding mother dressed in uniform. On the other had that should show the public that they can fight for there country put can also be mothers to there children and we as U.S. citicians should reolize that not everybody can be a solder and a breastfeeding mother much less a breastfeeding mother. So I am aginst discrimination on breastfeeding. I feed my baby anytime anywhere no matter what people say. Just a reminder I am sure that was the purpose that God gave us boobies and the abillity to nourish or children……

  3. Rene says:

    This room, that is be for my use – doe sthis room have to be specifically for Latcation use – or can any avail space be used?
    Mu issue is that I keep getting bumped romthe rooms that I am told I can use. Therefore – they are not free from intrusion, and now I have been told I cannot leave my equipment in the small office that has been designated for my use this month.
    Im tired of being pushed room to room, and now I cannot leave the equipment out to air dry, or leave it behind, and I have to post a sign on the door.
    I feel this is very rude. Not to mention, i have to go down 2 floors, to the otherside of the building to this room. I wondered if the provisions are for a room to be designated specifially for pumping Mothers and cannot be used for any other purpose.

    • admin says:

      If the federal provisions were enforceable, it is possible you would have a claim. However, the federal law is only enforceable if you are discharged and are owed back wages.

  4. Asha says:

    Do the federal laws apply in states that have no pumping legislation? I live in Florida and am going to be looking for work soon and noticed that Florida does not have workplace pumping legislation. The only state legislation that Florida has is that it’s legal to bf “anytime, anywhere”.

  5. sarah says:

    I am going back to work in 4 short days. at my place of employment there is no “break room” only a bathroom, which wouldnt be any good to me since there are no outlets and it states “other then a bathroom” here is a small cuby like area basically behind a wall with no door. with this situation should my employer allow me to go home and return to work?

  6. April says:

    I work for a large restaurant chain, my restaurant being I Georgia. Would the federal laws trump state laws? No one receives a break paid or unpaid. Thanks, April

    • admin says:

      Yes, federal law does trump state law. However, there is no federal law that helps you. Breaks during working hours are not required under federal law or under most state laws. :(

      • Maria says:

        Admin, not sure why you say that federal law won’t help this employee? Federal law now says that employers must provide reasonable breaks to pump, and even if her restaurant has fewer than 50 employees, if she works for a “large restaurant chain” it is unlikely the employer would be able to show “significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to the size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the employer’s business.”

        • admin says:

          If you read why an enforcement provision is important carefully, you will see that the absence of a federal enforcement provision renders the Department of Labor without a means to do anything when employers do not comply with this law. The DOL rarely even accepts complaints concerning employers’ failure to allow pumping, and when it does is powerless to do more than get the mom lost wages if she is fired.

          • Indie says:

            It seems that we’re skipping a step here. While we know that there is no enforcement provision, there is no reason that an employee has to be the one to inform management of that fact. Print out the fact sheet from the US Department of Labor,hand it to your employeer, and tell your employeer that you need to work together to schedule your legally mandated unpaid break times. If at this point they show that they intend to ignore the law then you have to decide what you will do without an enforcement provision. But in many cases when made aware of the law the employeer will comply.

          • admin says:

            Definitely worth a try. I have found that the employers who were willing to do this without mandate, already did it before this law was passed. But women must be ready for employers to read the law and say “make me.” It happens all the time. And women must now what they are risking. I don’t know of any statistics on this but many new moms have asked for accommodations in the absence law for years and getting them. So I find strategically it is always best to ask without threatening law first.

  7. Hello! I was recently told that breastfeeding in public without a cover on federal property was illegal and constituted indecent exposure… Do you have any information that you can share with me that could help me in getting a policy changed in a federal building that bans breastfeeding without a cover in its waiting room, even if very little skin is exposed?

    • admin says:

      No, that is incorrect. Federal law expressly “protects” public breastfeeding on federal property. Now there is no enforcement provision but the federal law is clear that breastfeeding by the public (not employees) can not be prohibits on federal property. See the federal law tab of this site for the wording of US Public Law 106-058, sec. 647 (1999).

  8. Liz says:

    Can my employer force me to leave my baby for one whole week for a conference? I cannot pump enough for him to last that long without me?

    • admin says:

      Sadly the answer is “yes.” All workplace laws regarding breastfeeding address pumping only. What women in your position usually do is arrange to pump while they are away and have the milk shipped. The best guide to doing this can be found in my friend Robyn Roche-Paull’s book Breastfeeding in Combat Boots. You can check out her site here: http://breastfeedingincombatboots.com/

  9. Kim says:

    Couldn’t Liz get something from her doctor or pediatrician stating that a week’s separation would be an undo hardship on her and her child?

    • admin says:

      There is no law requiring her employer to do anything about an undue hardship on either an employee or her child. The doctor’s not would not help.

  10. Ginna says:

    Hi, I worked in a group home for adults with mental retardation for the state of New York. Though I understand there isn’t an enforcement provision for the state an federal laws saying I am entitled to the breaks and space required for pumping milk while at work. Because it was a home the only space provided to me were any of the bathrooms, 3 of which were used for client care and one was strictly used by the staff. It became a nuisance to use the staff bathroom as other staff wanted to use it while I was pumping, so to be as descreet as possible I used the other bathrooms which were far from the cleanest of accommodations. Would my employer still need to accommodate the requirements for a private place not a bathroom as stated by the laws?

    • admin says:

      Federal law doesn’t help you but New York State law does! Check out the New York page for instructions.

  11. lindsay says:

    I have a question regarding pumping at a school. (This would be a College/trade school/university situation – adult mothers)

    Are there any laws applying to places of education that are the same or similar to those of places of employment? There are students at my cosmetology school that are now, all of the sudden, being docked an hour of credit per day when they pump. Is this legal? Other students are not docked time that they use the restroom or sit around in the break room all day. I’ve found it difficult to find any laws regarding breastfeeding for students. Are you aware of any? Does it depend on the state and the type of educational institution (private/public)?

    • admin says:

      There is no federal or state law concerning or protecting breastfeeding for students. Under some circumstances, there may be Title IX claims based on sex discrimination in schools but you would need to discuss this with a local discrimination lawyer. If the disparate treatment is between breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding women, it is unlikely there will be a remedy for you.

  12. Meri says:

    I’m on baby #3 and with both my kids most of these laws were not in place yet or they were ignored. I had to leave suddenly both jobs because I was not supported:(

    I’m now my own photographer and I have 1 employee. It’s still very stressful to be able to have to tell an employer about these laws…makes it less desirable to pump.

    I was a movie store employee for many years…my boss told me “Ew I don’t need to hear this” when I told him and tried explain. I got mastitis twice working for two major retailers.

    health service workers hear about their rights pretty well, but what about the labor workers in retail? I bet they when they tell their employers while applying, there is discrimination.

    Much easier to higher the 18 year old with no kids than the hard working mom trying to make ends meet…

  13. Ella says:

    I am wondering if there is any law about teenage moms returning to high school and their right to pump during school? Or, is there anything about discrimination in this type of situation?

  14. Brandi says:

    How do i find out if my work place is exempt from the section 7?

  15. […] to officials in charge that they have a right to feed their children in public as stated by both Federal and State of Hawaii law, both of which protect mothers’ rights to breastfeed in public and do not […]

  16. Julie says:

    Is there any guidance regarding the definition of an “employee” as it pertains to the new federal law under PPACA? If I am a contracted employee and do not receive any benefits, etc., only pay for services rendered, does this law apply to me or is it only true employees of a company?

    • admin says:

      The conventional definition of employee applies. Do you get a W-2 and not a 1099.

      The workplace pumping provisions are amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act which narrows covered employees as follow: “Section 13(a)(1) of the FLSA provides an exemption from both minimum wage and overtime pay for employees employed as bona fide executive, administrative, professional and outside sales employees. Section 13(a)(1) and Section 13(a)(17) also exempt certain computer employees. To qualify for exemption, employees generally must meet certain tests regarding their job duties and be paid on a salary basis at not less than $455 per week. Job titles do not determine exempt status. In order for an exemption to apply, an employee’s specific job duties and salary must meet all the requirements of the Department’s regulations.”

  17. […] discussed, they mention that there are some state laws about pumping at work, but it’s actually a federally mandated law from 2010 that requires employers to provide break time and a place to pump. Unfortunately, the […]

  18. Jennifer says:

    I am a community pharmacist in Virginia and very worried about returning to work after the birth of my first child and trying to pump. Apparently my job position is a “non-exempt” employee means I am not entitled to a lunch break so does this also mean I am not allowed a break to go express milk? We often work 8-13 hour shifts so I may even need multiple breaks.
    I understand the frustration to my employer as prescriptions cannot be verified and filled while I am pumping on break, and people can be very impatient. However I know I cant be the only breastfeeding mom who is in this position.
    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

    • admin says:

      Sadly Jennifer the law will not help you. I would suggest that you work with an IBCLC on techniques such as block nursing so you can maintain your supply without pumping during the day. Now this assumes that you have requested break time from your employer and been refused. It is always best to ask for accommodations before assuming they won’t be available.

  19. Kristin says:

    Hi, I will be returning to work in a month, I want to pump and my employers may give me a hard time. We have fewer than 50 employees and no real space other than a bathroom to pump. Am I protected by law if they refuse me time and/or space to pump. I am aware I would need to clock out for these times. If they refuse my request to pump during working hours what do I do?

  20. Kristin says:

    Oh sorry I’m in PA

    • admin says:

      Sadly, no. You are not protected. However, you should come up with a plan you think is workable for both you and your employer, and propose it (with a willingness to negotiate) to your employer. Even if you end up only able to pump to your lunch breaks and any break time, talk to an IBCLC about maintaining your supply even with this hardship. We need new law in Pennsylvania!

  21. Kristin says:

    Unbelievable!!! I don’t get regular breaks I only get a lunch break in my long shift but with my shorter 5 1/2 and 4 hour shifts I get nothing! Guess it’s time to look for a new job! Totally unfair and in- American!

    • admin says:

      Sadly, totally American. Federal law does not require that ANY worker get ANY break time. A handful of states have laws requiring lunch breaks.

      This is what unions were supposed to be for. But we don’t even have them anymore because everything is outsourced beyond our border.

      This IS totally unfair and totally consistent with American capitalism.

      end rant but really I could go on and on

  22. Kristin says:

    I could go on and on right there with you! If being a single mother wasnt stressful enough, this just put me over the edge! What happened to women’s rights! Something needs to be done! We need to make a change! I can’t just sit by and allow this to happen for mother’s to come…what can we do?

  23. Kristin says:

    Great! Thanks for the information and your prompt responses! I can’t thank you enough!

  24. Julie says:


    If you were a smoker, would you get smoke breaks? If there are people who you work with who take smoke breaks, perhaps you should become a smoker…Just a thought. :)

  25. Lori says:

    How does the breastfeeding law apply to flight attendants?
    There is no where to pump on the airplane and no breaks to pump. We are required to work up to 14 hour duty days without breaks.

    • admin says:

      Sadly flight attendants are in the same boat with everyone else. Federal law has no enforcement mechanism or penalty unless you are fired. You have an outrageously difficult job – even without needing to pump. And this is precisely the sort of thing unions used to be for (thank you Ronald Reagan).

      Certainly you can attempt to file a complaint with the US Department of Labor. But you are unlikely to get help there. You can also try to negotiate something with the airline. Can you use the lounges in airports to pump? I have heard of many airlines welcoming non-employees to do that. Of course, if you are in the air, you know your options are extremely limited. :(

    • Erin says:

      Hi, I worked for a large company in GA. When I returned to work I used the break room (my breast were covered) to express milk. My managers told me I was offensive and doing something illegal and that I had to use another room. The other room was a common room that was used throughout the day and accessible by all workers (A failed attempt to provide me with a “private”room). However, making me use another room was not out of concern for me, but rather them being disgusted by the act. Can I fight this? Please advise. Thanks in advance.

  26. Eva says:

    I’m actually going through a custody battle. My son is breathed, and starting to enjoy some baby food/table food, but he has severe allergies to dairy, eggs, and some fruits. For that reason, I still breastfeed regularly every four hours. Thus, my ex’s visitation is limited to four hours. I cannot pump because my supply is rather limited, and he feeds on demand; whatever I make, he drains completely. My ex’s lawyer has argued that if I must continue breastfeeding, I should pump and give my ex my milk, so that he has more time with him. I feel this sort of demand is unreasonable; he’s telling me what to do with my body. Is there any sort of law that protects mothers from this?

    • admin says:

      This is a matter you must discuss with the attorney representing you in the custody case. It is very state and fact specific. If you don’t have a lawyer, you need one. Fast.

      • Eva says:

        I do have a lawyer, and I plan on asking him, but I was just wondering if there are any general guidelines for issues like this…

        • admin says:

          Your lawyer can hire me as a consultant. These cases are complex, local and individual. Sorry.

  27. Brittany says:

    Do the breastfeeding laws pertain to college students as well? I have an instructor that has an issue with me pumping and is trying to dictate what time I go pump how often i go and how long I go I don’t feel that this acceptable especially when I make sure to go during free times or breaks we have from class, I’m in nursing school and she is the first of 3 instructors to have a problem with it and I have been pumping now for almost 6 mts please help!

    • admin says:

      Unfortunately, your status as a student is completely different from your status as an employee. If you are not an employee, workplace pumping laws do not apply to you. This is an area where students need to be activist on their own campuses and fight for pumping room availability. I have to tell you that from my experience working with breastfeeding/pumping women, healthcare institutions and nursing/medical schools are extremely unfriendly to accommodating breastfeeding. Makes no sense but that has been my experience fairly consistently.

  28. Anonymous says:

    […] Act 2013, would also help to bring the U.S. military in line with federal law (specifically the Workplace Pumping Law that is part of the Affordable Care Act signed into law in 2010). The policy has gone to […]

  29. Andi says:

    What does “other than a bathroom” mean? I work in Colorado and we have a bathroom that has an adjacent area with lockers. There is no door between the two areas – it is just open. So they want to put me in the “locker area” because they say its not a bathroom since its not in the stalls.

    • admin says:

      “Other than a bathroom” means precisely that. If the locker room is part of the bathroom, it would be unacceptable. Do, however, remember that the federal law has no mechanism for enforcement unless you are fired. Be sure you check your state law.

  30. Samantha says:

    Do I use the federal laws to protect my rights when flying? Or would I use the state laws from the state I fly out of or into?

    • admin says:

      This is a question that has not been fully resolved by the courts. What is clear is that state law applies while the plane is on the ground. However, while in the air, there is not yet a relevant decision interpreting the blanket ability to maintain the “security of the aircraft” that exists under federal law regulating air travel. Remember you don’t have any right to breastfeed in public accommodations under federal law. So what law would help you?

  31. […] that this is something you are committed to doing and that you need the time to make it work. Under the federal law, you are allowed a space (not in a bathroom) and appropriate length break(s) to make this work. For […]

  32. It would be great if the law was for 2 years pp, since that is the recommendation for how long babies should receive breastmilk.

  33. SaraBethStyle says:

    Hi, I work for a large company in nj doing medical sales. I am in the field full time and my company’s office is over an hour from the territory I work in. My only option is to pump in the car with no privacy. I am also concerned abt storing the breast milk with the summer heat. Is there any law that can help me? Thanks!

    • admin says:

      Unfortunately NJ has no workplace pumping statute. Federal law has no ability to help you but filing a complaint with the Department of Labor couldn’t hurt. It is sadly unable to be of much help either.

  34. Jennifer says:

    Hello… I live in Oregon. I’m hoping that my right as a breastfeeding mother to feed my baby in any public place allows me to be able to breastfeed in a courtroom? I am representing myself in traffic court (pleading innocent to speeding) and have been informed by the court clerk that I cannot bring my exclusively beast-fed 4 month old infant into the courtroom with me (no children under 12 allowed in courtroom that aren’t testifying). I’ve stated my situation and the fact that my baby does not take a bottle. Regardless, if I leave her with a sitter, I would be gone well over the time she requires to be fed. Does a city courtroom count as a public place? If so, how do I convince this judge to allow my breastfed infant inside the courtroom with me? I’ve been informed I can plead innocent and testify by written affidavit without being present, but then I also lose the ability to rebuttal any decision made by the judge. Please advise. Thank you!

    • admin says:

      No, public accommodation law does not apply to individual courtrooms where the judge is king/queen/fief. If children of the age of your breastfeeding child is not allowed in the courtroom, that rule is not superceded by Oregon’s state public breastfeeding law. You can however ask the court for special permission and exceptions can be made. However, it is not something you have a legal right to.

  35. Erin says:

    Hi, I worked for a large company in GA. When I returned to work I used the break room to express milk (my breast were covered). My managers told me that I was offensive and doing something illegal and that I had to use another room. They also said they didnt want a man walking in on me and seeing my breast (again my breast were covered). The other room was a common room as well that was used throughout the day and accessible by all workers (failed attempt to provide me with a “private room”). However, a male coworker walked in on me(my breast were not covered). Making me use another room was not out of concern for me but rather them being disgusted by the act. Can I fight this? Please advise. Thanks in advance.

  36. Hi I’m amber I will be returning to
    School July 31st im currently breastfeeding my baby I’m I still protected under this act? Someone please help!!! my school has been hard on its students they mark us down on our attendance for using the restroom

  37. Lauren says:

    Can you please inform me if only full-time employees are backed legally to be provided breaks to pump at work? I am a part time, contingent worker. Thank you in advance.

    • admin says:

      The federal law that was amended to include workplace pumping provisions applies only to full time hourly employees. Your state law may be better.

  38. Ella Elliott says:

    I hope this isn’t a repeat of a question, but I didn’t see it. I am a 4th grade teacher in the State of Texas in a medium size district over 1000 employees. What are my rights as a teacher pumping? I don’t think there will be an issue but I want to be prepared. Obviously I want to do what is best for my students, but my daughter’s needs are my top priority. I will have a room, (my class), but as far as breaks do they have to allow time or someone to cover my class? Thank you, Ella

    • admin says:

      As you can see from this Federal law page, federal law is currently of little use. If you go to the Texas page, you will see employers have no obligation whatsoever to accommodate you. Unless you are a member of a union, you must negotiate accommodations with your employer.

  39. […] is a list of state breastfeeding laws.  There is also a federal law that applies to federal land and […]

  40. Kay says:

    I live in California. I was being told by my employer to bump in the restroom. They have a bumping area between the two toilet stalls, and it is cover by a curtain. I did ask for another room and did mention the law after they refused. However, I was told that the area in the restroom passed the inspection. Could that be? Who could have inspected it?

    I have been bumping in my car ever since and it has been very hot.

    What should I do?

  41. AnonCA says:

    I am in California. My workplace is having a retreat on an island that can be accessed only by ferry and the only facility is a restroom. Do these laws extend to off-site events that are a part of one’s job or only in the office itself? Also, the island we are going to is a state park and I was told by a park employee that I cannot use a ranger’s office because they “can’t have the public in there”. Thoughts?

    • admin says:

      The federal law is of no use to you here. However, California’s workplace pumping law might be. I recommend contacting the CA Department of Labor.

  42. Christina says:

    I am an interior designer in Illinois. Although “best practices” dictate that a sink, under-counter refrigerator, sturdy/supportive chair, side table and electrical outlet are provided in Lactation Rooms – I haven’t been able to find mandates on providing any of the above. I have a client who has asked if a sink is really mandatory to provide. Where can I find the answer to these questions?

    • admin says:

      You haven’t found them because they don’t exist. There are no formal “best practices” in this area. All that is required is what a state law dictates and that is only meaningful if the state law has an enforcement provision.

  43. Cruskaya says:

    It should be an enforcement to breastfeeding and pumping law in Florida, is something that can be done for this?

    • admin says:

      Lobby for a change in Florida law. Hook up with breastfeeding activists in Florida. Contact a Florida breastfeeding coalition.

  44. Viadda says:

    I’m employed in the state of Oklahoma. My manager is suggesting that I should only pump once a day and not take as many breaks. I take 4 12min breaks. My employer already allows for 2 15min paid breaks and a 1 hr unpaid lunch. I do not use my 2 15min breaks and take a 1/2hr lunch due to pumping. I understand that FMLA protects employees working for a company with 50 employees or more, but what if there are only 25 employees?

    • admin says:

      Please read this page carefully. While you re always free to file a complaint with the US Department of Labor, the FMLA in fact has no mode of enforcement for the pump provision unless you are fired. If your employer is below 50, you are entirely unprotected. You have to look to Oklahoma law and if it does not protect you, there is nothing available to you.

      Please remember your employer has no obligation to give you or any employee break time for any reason under federal law. Very few state require breaks. The vast majority of US workers have no legal right to a break of any kind no matter how many hours they work.

  45. Becca says:

    I travel for work a lot, 10-15 trips a year for 2-7 days at a time. My employer is currently giving me, and the other breastfeeding moms, a hard time about giving us each our own room while on the road. Since the room is shared and they are required to provide a private place, other than a bathroom, are they legally required to give us our own room?

    • admin says:

      Beccca, I am not sure what requirement you are referring to. Have you read the Federal Law section?

  46. […] Though many women report feeling uncomfortable breastfeeding in public, there are federal and state laws in place to protect you if you choose to feed your baby in public. For example, you may breastfeed your baby at any Federal property or building (2). […]

  47. […] are federal and state laws in the U.S. that support women breastfeeding in public, and this isn’t the first time Delta has […]

  48. […] breastfeeding on federal property. For the average restaurant-goer or traveler, it all depends on what state you’re in. Some states, like Vermont, have progressive laws permitting mothers to breastfeed in places of […]

  49. […] breastfeeding on federal property. For the average restaurant-goer or traveler, it all depends on what state you’re in. Some states, like Vermont, have progressive laws permitting mothers to breastfeed in places of […]

  50. […] your right as an American! You are legally allowed to breastfeed in any and every federal building and on any federal […]

  51. […] the provision’s effectiveness. Philadelphia attorney Jake Marcus has long pointed out the law’s lack of a clear enforcement provision and what that means. She also questions the extent of the law’s coverage, an issue addressed by […]