In January 2018, AJC reported that a mother was kicked out of a Chick-Fil-A restaurant in North Dakota after trying to breastfeed her infant child. A month later, managers asked a 22-year-old mother in Washington to leave Subway and then Walmart after she attempted to breastfeed her infant. This summer, a city pool kicked a Texan mom off the property for the same reason.
Women in America continue to face obstacles when it comes to breastfeeding. Because of this, many mothers now wonder, “Where can you legally breastfeed?”
Breastfeeding in Public Spaces
It is in public spaces that women face the greatest opposition to breastfeeding. These include supermarkets, restaurants and parks. The situations that arise may cause many people to believe that the managers or other concerned bystanders who challenge a woman’s right to breastfeed may have some legal grounds for doing so.
However, David Reischer, Esq., a New York civil rights lawyer with decades of experience tells Parentology that this is simply not true. “All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location,” he says.
According to People.com, Utah spearheaded improvements to these provisions when it passed laws to ensure women could breastfeed covered or uncovered. After this, D.C. and all 50 states adopted similar legal provisions.
So, where can you legally breastfeed in public? Anywhere.
Breastfeeding at Work
What about the workplace? Some women may feel awkward about breastfeeding or pumping on the job, and their managers may have a few thoughts to share on the practice. After all, work is a different social dynamic than a park or pool. Which begs the question: Is it legal to breastfeed or pump at work?
According to Reischer, the answer to that question is, yes. He notes, “The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 (29 U.S. Code 207) mandates that an employer provide [the] opportunity for an employee to allow breastfeeding at work and also for an employer to provide a location, other than a bathroom, for the employee to breastfeed.”
Steven I. Azizi, Esq., a California lawyer representing employees, shares his major concern for mothers in the workplace.
“While I think the laws are favorable for women to breastfeed in public, I believe the biggest concern is in the workplace, where women are regularly prevented from expressing milk,” he tells Parentology. “Women should be able to freely pump milk for their newborns to drink when they get home from a long day of work.”
The Best States to Breastfeed
The good news is that some employers and states are going the extra mile to provide additional support for breastfeeding mothers. Several companies now have on-site day care facilities and areas for pumping and storing milk.
Azizi notes that, “The United States lags far behind other countries, such as the U.K., where women have [a] statutory right to take breaks for breastfeeding.” However, there are two states that distinguish themselves from the rest: California and New York.
“Under California law, for example, breastfeeding discrimination is a form of sex discrimination,” he says. Both New York and California created civil statutes that provide women with the ability to sue for the violation of their civil rights, if denied the right to breastfeed. This makes these two states arguably the best to live in as a breastfeeding mother.
Where Can You Legally Breastfeed Your Child? – Sources
AJC, Breastfeeding woman asked to leave Chick-Fil-A restaurant
KIRO 7, Mother kicked out of Walmart after taking stand on breastfeeding
CNN, A Texas mom says she was kicked out of a city pool for breastfeeding her baby
People.com, Here’s Where You Can — and Can’t — Legally Breastfeed in the U.S.
David Reischer, Esq., LegalAdvice.com
Steven I. Azizi, Esq., Miracle Mile Law Group