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Breastfeeding Rights

Information and Resources on the Benefits of Breastfeeding

Overview of the Laws: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and Federal

In Pennsylvania and in Philadelphia, the law protects your right to breastfeed your child in any location, whether public or private, regardless of whether or not your breast is concealed.  In addition, federal law protects many working mothers who want to express breast milk for up to one year after the birth of their children.

Under Pennsylvania Law:

A mother is permitted to breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be present, irrespective of whether or not the mother's breast is covered during or incidental to the breastfeeding.

The law also states that breastfeeding shall not be considered a crime of indecent exposure, open lewdness, obscenity, or nuisance.

Freedom to Breastfeed Act, 35 Pa. Stat. Ann. §§ 636.1-636.4.

If you believe that your breastfeeding rights under Pennsylvania law have been denied, contact a lawyer for assistance in enforcing your rights. 

You may contact the Women’s Law Project at 215-928-9801 for assistance.

Under Philadelphia law:

A public accommodation may not prohibit a breastfeeding mother from or segregate a breastfeeding mother within any public accommodation where she would otherwise be authorized to be, irrespective of whether or not the nipple of the mother's breast is covered during or incidental to breastfeeding.

Philadelphia Code § 9-1105(A)(1)(c).
The Philadelphia breastfeeding ordinance is enforced by the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations.  Complaints must be filed with the Commission within 300 days of the last act of discrimination.  If you believe that your breastfeeding rights have been violated in the city of Philadelphia and want to begin the complaint process, you may file a complaint with the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations.

Center City Office
The Curtis Center
601 Walnut Street, Suite 300 South
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Phone: 215-686-4670
TTY: 215-686-3238
www.phila.gov/humanrelations

Under Federal Law:

Employers must accommodate women who want to express breast milk in the workplace by providing:

  • “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.” 

The law allows employers with fewer than 50 employees to apply for an exemption if accommodating an employee who expresses breast milk would impose an “undue hardship,” and does not protect employees who: (1) work at small businesses  with fewer than two employees that have annual sales or business of less than $500,000; and (2) are not regularly involved in interstate commerce in their individual capacity.

The Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 207(r)(1)(A) (2010).

The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division is responsible for enforcing this law.  For information about filing a complaint, see http://www.dol.gov/whd/nursingmothers