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Accommodating Nursing Mothers

Reference Number: MTAS-497
Reviewed Date: 10/21/2022

On March 23, 2010, a federal law was passed that requires employers to accommodate nursing mothers in the workplace. In addition to federal law, there are state laws that guide compliance on this issue. This publication will guide you through state and federal laws that accommodate nursing mothers in the workplace. It also will provide information on employer best practices and frequently asked questions.

Effective July 31, 2011, the Tennessee legislature passed Chapter No. 91 (HB0871/SB0083), which removed the age limit on children who can be breast-fed in public. This statute amended T.C.A. §§ 39-13-511 and 68-58-101 by removing the 12-month age limit on children who can be legally breast-fed publicly. This does not change the federal law passed in 2010 that was part of health care reform.

In 2012, T.C.A. § 39-13-511 (d) was amended to expressly state that the definition of “indecent exposure” does not apply to a mother who is breastfeeding her child in any location, public or private. T.C.A. § 39–13–517(a)(1) also states that “nudity” or “state of nudity” prohibited by that section does not include a mother in the act of nursing the mother's baby. 2012 Tennessee Laws Pub. Ch. 885 (H.B. 3257).