Breastfeeding and protection at work: Part 2
Breastfeeding mothers returning to work are protected by law.
Federal Workplace Law
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (PL111-148) Section 4207, became effective March of 2010. Basically, it requires employers to provide reasonable break time for breastfeeding mothers. For example, it allows you, the employee, to take breaks to pump. These breaks are not paid breaks, so if you need to take three 10-minute breaks, i.e. 30 minutes, you may work an extra 30 minutes that workday.
The United States Breastfeeding Committee posted Frequently Asked Questions about Section 4207 on its website.
What is the "Break Time for Nursing Mothers" law?
This federal law requires employers to allow a breastfeeding mother to collect their breast milk at work. In summary:
The nursing mother can have:
- A reasonable break time for expressing milk, until the nursing child is one year old
- A private space that is not a bathroom
- Uncompensated breaks that can be made up in the same workday
- Is not required to compensate the employee, but allow her to make up time in the workday
- With less than 50 employees is not be subject to this requirement
- Nothing in this subsection can prevent a state law that provides greater protections to employees
State laws protect public breastfeeding, and no law in the U.S. forbids breastfeeding outside the home - only Illinois and Missouri have placed limitation on public breastfeeding. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) provides a summary of state breastfeeding laws. Check the laws in your state.
Protection under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), the federal law that prohibits most workplace harassment and discrimination, covers all private employers, state and local governments, and educational institutions with 15 or more employees. Courts have typically said that breastfeeding is not protected under Title VII. See the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website for more details.
In June of 2014, a Michigan law went into effect, called the Breastfeeding Antidiscrimination Act, also known as Act 197, which prohibits discriminatory practices, policies and customs in the exercise of:
- The right to breastfeed
- To provide for enforcement of the right to breastfeed
- To provide remedies
Read further in an article from the Michigan Breastfeeding Network, Free to Feed in Michigan regarding a women’s right to breastfeed in any public place.
Disclaimer: Information available on this website that was not developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and/or Michigan State University Extension does not necessarily represent any CDC or MSU policy, position, or endorsement of that information or of its sources. The information contained on this website is not legal advice; if you have questions about a specific law or its application you should consult your legal counsel.