Your State Might Exempt You From Jury Duty if You’re Breastfeeding

And Ohio might be next to join.
ByNatalie Escobar
Published
Jun 2017
breast pumps being weigh by scales of justice

Getting called in for jury duty can be a pain, but needing to breastfeed your baby during long court sessions can add a whole new set of complications. If you live in Ohio, though, a proposed bill might give you a pass from having to serve.

State Rep. Ann Gonzales introduced the bill in February of 2017 after a constituent told her she couldn’t get excused from jury service and ended up breastfeeding in a broom closet, according to the Dayton Daily News. If the legislation passes, Ohio would join 17 states and Puerto Rico in having laws that allow breastfeeding parents to postpone or even be excused from jury service altogether.

If you breastfeed your child, these laws can protect you from a minefield of problems you could face if selected for jury service. One Minnesota mom took to Facebook last March to share her experience after a judge at the Hennepin County Government Center allowed her only two pumping breaks during the court session, during which she had to share a cramped bathroom with two other moms. Although Minnesota has laws that require workplaces to allow “reasonable unpaid break time” to parents who need to pump and provide spaces for them to do so, there’s nothing specific about what courtrooms need to do.

Wondering whether your state makes jury duty allowances for breastfeeding moms? Here’s the total list of states and territories that have laws about breastfeeding and jury duty, and what breastfeeding parents need to know about them:

  • California: You can postpone service for up to one year, and then can postpone even further by written request to the Judicial Council of California.
  • Connecticut: You can postpone for up to 12 months if you’re breastfeeding or expressing breast milk for your child. The state is also required to make information for how to request this accommodation available on its website.
  • Idaho: In addition to “undue hardship,” “extreme inconvenience” or “public necessity” you can postpone your jury service if you’re breastfeeding. To get permission, you have to write a statement to the jury commissioner and provide a date for when the reason for postponement “will no longer exist.” The commissioner might also require you to give a statement from your medical provider.
  • Illinois: Upon request, “any mother nursing her child” can be excused from service.
  • Iowa: If you submit written documentation that you are the “mother of a breastfed child” and are “responsible for the daily care of the child,” you can be excused. There’s a catch, though; the court has to be satisfied with your explanation, and you can’t get the exemption if you’re regularly employed outside your home.
  • Kansas: You get an automatic exemption if you’re breastfeeding your child, until you no longer have to do so.
  • Kentucky: You’re excused from service if you’re breastfeeding or expressing breast milk until you’re no longer nursing.
  • Michigan: You can get exempted from jury service while nursing your child. You can get exempted from making the request yourself if you give the jury commissioner a letter verifying that you’re nursing from a physician, lactation consultant or certified nurse midwife.
  • Mississippi: Nursing mothers can get exempted if they make an oath in open court that they’re breast-feeding.
  • Missouri: You can be excused from service as a petit or grand juror if you’re breastfeeding a child, as long as you ask to be excused by no later than the date which you’re scheduled to appear in court.
  • Montana: Breastfeeding is one of the reasons to excuse people from service for “undue hardship,” as long as the person gives an affidavit to the jury commissioner.
  • Nebraska: You might be required to give the jury commissioner a physician’s certificate to support your request from jury service until you’re no longer breastfeeding.
  • Oklahoma: You can request to be exempt from service if you’re breastfeeding.
  • Oregon: You have to make a request in writing in order to be excused as a juror while breastfeeding your child.
  • Puerto Rico: You can be exempt from breastfeeding a child who’s under 24 months if you provide medical documents to confirm that you’re nursing.
  • South Dakota: Mothers who are breastfeeding children under one year old can be exempted if they submit a request to the court clerk within 10 days of receiving the summons.
  • Utah: Mothers can be excused if they’re breastfeeding as long as they provide an affidavit, sworn testimony or other evidence.
  • Virginia: The law allows you to be excused for breastfeeding without needing to provide evidence ahead of time or during the court session.

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