Your Breastfeeding Rights in California
San Diego Nursing in Public Task Force
The Task Force is a collaboration between the San Diego Breastfeeding Center and the San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition and is managed by its founding members, Robin Kaplan, Katie Jo Keppinger, Shanna LeCount, and Amy Watson (in addition to numerous local volunteers).
The goal of the SDNIP Task Force is to educate our community about the California laws that protect a mother’s right to breastfeed in public and to provide support and guidance to mothers who have faced harassment or discrimination for breastfeeding in public. The resources provided were created with the intention to empower mothers, by educating them on their civil rights to breastfeed in public and how to handle a harassment incident, were business owners, by providing resources that they can integrate into their employee handbooks and training materials so that they are compliant with California law. This online resource is a work in progress, as we hope to include additional materials over the course of the year.
The role of the SDNIP Task Force is to maintain this online resource for community members to prevent and ameliorate nursing in public discrimination, as well as serve as local advocates for mothers who have faced harassment for breastfeeding in public.
San Diego Nursing in Public Task Force Resources
Scenarios for Ways to Handle a Nursing in Public Harassment Incident
Wondering what to say when someone asks you to cover up in a store or restaurant? The following are scenarios demonstrating a situation where a mother has been asked to cover up, move to another location, or leave a business due to breastfeeding in public. Each scenario proposes steps that the mother can take to resolve the situation proactively and immediately.
California Laws that Protect and Enforce a Mother’s Right to Breastfeed in Public
Did you know that California is one of the only states that not only has a law that protects a mother’s right to breastfeed in public, but also an enforcement provision to uphold this law? This document lists both of these civil codes, as well as offers steps to resolve a nursing in public harassment incident when it cannot be ameliorated peacefully in the moment.
Template Letter to Send to a Business After a Nursing in Public Harassment Incident
California Civil Code 43.3 (1997)
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, except the private home or residence of another, where the mother and the child are otherwise authorized to be present. http://californiabreastfeeding.org/advocacy/california-breastfeeding-laws/
Unruh Civil Rights Act
Fact Sheet that describes the California Civil Code sections 51 through 51.3, which provide protection from discrimination by all business establishments in California, including housing and public accommodations. Discrimination against a breastfeeding mother is considered sex discrimination under the Unruh Civil Rights Act and is protected and enforced by the law. (http://www.dfeh.ca.gov/res/docs/publications/DFEH-250.pdf)
FOX News Segment about nursing in public rights, featuring Robin Kaplan(http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=zhP5pkML0pU)
Becoming a Badass Public Breastfeeder
It is possible to breastfeed comfortably in public. Abby has spoken with hundreds of women to address real concerns that affect a mom’s ability to breastfeed her baby on demand. Becoming a Badass Public Breastfeeder provides you with information, resources, advice and encouragement in an easy and free e-course. Thousands of people have gained the confidence to brave the outside world with nursling in tow. Now it’s your turn to gain the confidence to breastfeed your baby while still living a full life as the productive member of society that you are! (http://gentleparentinfo.com/BadassPublicBreastfeeder.html)
Family Friendly Business Initiative
As one mother put it, “I appreciate and favor businesses where I know, if my baby is hungry, I can comfortably meet his needs.” The goal of the Family Friendly Business Initiative is to make it easier for mothers to nurse their little ones when they are out shopping or dining. Also, they want to give businesses that support nursing/pumping mothers the recognition that they deserve!
To become a Family Friendly Business, businesses must provide a welcoming attitude to nursing mothers and their babies and a comfortable, clean place (other than a restroom) for a mother to breastfeed her baby–a dressing room or a quiet corner is just fine.
Businesses can contact Family Friendly Business for educational materials for their staff including a sample breastfeeding policy.
Best for Babes NIP Hotline
The Best for Babes NIP hotline is the place where all nursing in public harassment incidents are being recorded and documented. If you have been discriminated against for nursing in public, in addition to using our resources to remedy the situation, please report the incident to the Best for Babes NIP hotline. The only way all state and federal breastfeeding laws will include an enforcement provision is if legislators are faced with a need. Collecting your stories will present the need! Best for Babes also has a fantastic article “What to do if Harassed While Nursing in Public.” It provides a fantastic step-by-step support for sticking up for yourself and your baby. [http://www.bestforbabes.org/i-was-harassed-for-nursing-in-public-nip-what-do-i-do/]
Comprehensive website that lists every state and federal law that protects your right to breastfeed. Covers both workplace accommodation laws (breastfeeding/pumping in the workplace) and breastfeeding in public laws. Information also includes whether the state has an enforcement provision to uphold the laws. Maintained by Jake Marcus, JD. (http://breastfeedinglaw.com/)
Here’s a downloadable California Breastfeeding Law Card that you can print and share whenever and wherever you rights are being questioned.
Disclaimer – Nothing on this site should be interpreted as legal advice. We are not attorneys. We are breastfeeding advocates. The purpose is to educate our community about the laws that protect a mother’s right to breastfeed in public, as well as provide supporting documents for mothers when a nursing in public harassment incident must be remedied.