Massachusetts



Public Breastfeeding Law

Section 221. (a) A mother may breastfeed her child in any public place or establishment or place which is open to and accepts or solicits the patronage of the general public and where the mother and her child may otherwise lawfully be present.

(b) Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the act of a mother breastfeeding her child, and any exposure of a breast incidental thereto that is solely for the purpose of nursing such child, shall not be considered lewd, indecent, immoral, or unlawful conduct.

(c) No person or entity, including a governmental entity, shall, with the intent to violate a mother’s right under subsection (a), restrict, harass or penalize a mother who is breastfeeding her child.

Enforcement Provision

d) The attorney general may bring a civil action for equitable relief to restrain or prevent a violation of subsection (c).

(e) A civil action may be brought under this section by a mother subjected to a violation of subsection (c). In any such action, the court may: (i) award actual damages in an amount not to exceed $500; (ii) enter an order to restrain such unlawful conduct; and (iii) award reasonable attorney fees.

Workplace Pumping Law

None

Enforcement Provision

None



30 Responses to “Massachusetts”

  1. eve says:

    You have an enforcement provision listed, but then below it says that there is none.

  2. Perhaps a well-placed indent or a font change would be helpful.

  3. Nicole Hayes says:

    I thought there was a law for workplace pumping? My HR rep told me she was required to have a private place for me to pump if I came back to work in the office

  4. Mary says:

    Would an elementary school parking lot, inside a private vehicle be considered a public place and therefore legal to breastfeed?

    • admin says:

      Possibly. It is likely owned by the school district or the local government. That you are inside a private vehicle is irrelevant.

    • Leslie says:

      A car is considered private. It’s also why a police officer cannot enter your car without your permission or a court order.

      • admin says:

        Again, this is not correct Leslie. The necessity of obtaining a warrant for a car search in criminal cases barring exigent circumstances – which is virtually non-existent in many states these days anyway – is entirely unrelated to whether breastfeeding in a car is public or private.

  5. Mary says:

    It is owned by the city school district.

  6. Mary says:

    I am a teacher and am trying to figure out if I have the right to nurse my daughter in my car on my lunch break in the school parking lot.

    • admin says:

      The safest thing to do is make sure the employer is okay with your doing it. The district can forbid it. As long as you are at work, your employer can decide whether or not you pump in a state, like MA, where there is no workplace pumping law.

  7. Mary says:

    Thank you.

  8. pat says:

    How does this law apply if a person is inside a church durng a religious service?.

    • admin says:

      Good question. It depends on whether houses of worship are considered public accommodations under MA law. And given that this law does not specifically reference that definition, it really may come down to a question of interpretation. We may not know until there is a case in which a religious institution objects.

      • Leslie says:

        If the place of worship is open to the public rather than open to members only, it is considered public.

        • admin says:

          Not necessarily. This is state law specific. Places of worship are generally excluded from the definition of “public accommodations.” One would need to check the precise definition under MA state law.

  9. Melinda says:

    –there’s a federal workplace breastfeeding law that applies no matter which state you’re in, so you’re good. My workplace didn’t provide me a place to nurse or pump besides the bathroom, so I ended up losing my milk supply and having to have my husband bring my son to work and breastfeeding him in the car on my breaks to save my supply. Only reason I didn’t go to the line on this one was I came back to work only for 2 months. I did let them know what the law was in the exit interview, though. as for the church, private and public places you’re allowed to be–you can breastfeed there as far as I’ve read. Our church provides a nursing mothers room separate from a nursery, but if there’s not a place you should be fine. People need to realize life isn’t so sterile and there’s birth, death, breastfeeding, peeing, etc and get used to it.

  10. […] What does an enforcement provision look like?  Here’s the law in my state, Massachusetts: […]

  11. ira says:

    Hello,

    I was recently breastfeeding completely covered in a correctional facility while visiting an inmate. I was told breast feeding wasnt allowed. How can they stop this if I was there legally and there were no signs and nothing on the visit slips stating I couldnt breast feed. Can they stop me.?
    thanks

    • admin says:

      The question would be, is a correctional facility a public place under MA law? Have you filed a complaint with the Warden?

  12. Grace says:

    In regards to pumping in Massachusetts, I’ve read it’s federal law. From the information on this page, I wouldn’t want someone to walk away thinking that their employer is not responsible.

    President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on March 30, 2010. (See the combined full text of Public Laws 111-148 and 111-152 here.) Among many provisions, Section 4207 of the law amends the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 (29 U.S. Code 207) to require an employer to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express milk. The employer is not required to compensate an employee receiving reasonable break time for any work time spent for such purpose. The employer must also provide a place, other than a bathroom, for the employee to express breast milk. If these requirements impose undue hardship, an employer that employs fewer than 50 employees is not subject to these requirements. The federal requirements shall not preempt a state law that provides greater protections to employees.

  13. Crystal says:

    Although there is no MA law specific to workplace pumping, we are protected by federal law: President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on March 30, 2010. (See the combined full text of Public Laws 111-148 and 111-152 here.) Among many provisions, Section 4207 of the law amends the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 (29 U.S. Code 207) to require an employer to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express milk. The employer is not required to compensate an employee receiving reasonable break time for any work time spent for such purpose. The employer must also provide a place, other than a bathroom, for the employee to express breast milk. If these requirements impose undue hardship, an employer that employs fewer than 50 employees is not subject to these requirements. The federal requirements shall not preempt a state law that provides greater protections to employees.

    • admin says:

      Please see the Federal Law page on this site for an explanation of why the ACA has no mode of enforcement unless a woman is fired.

  14. Jenny says:

    The exemption for small businesses is really unfortunate. I wish there were some language about “must make a reasonable effort to accommodate…”