We have a law here in New Jersey (since 1997) which protects the rights of nursing mothers and their breastfed children. The law sets forth the importance of breastfeeding and clarifies that women have the right to breastfeed their children in public. This was one of the first laws that provided fines and penalties for its violation. So next time you feel harassed in any public space due to breastfeeding, know your rights and know you can (and should) report this violation.
2. Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, a mother shall be entitled to breast feed her baby in any location of a place of public accommodation, resort or amusement wherein the mother is otherwise permitted.
3. a. The local board of health or such board, body or officers exercising the functions of the local board of health according to law, upon written complaint and having reason to suspect a violation of this act has occurred shall, by written notification, advise the owner, manager or other person having control of the public accommodation, resort or amusement of the initial complaint and of the penalties for any subsequent complaints. Thereupon, any owner, manager or other person having control of the public accommodation, resort or amusement receiving such notice who knowingly fails or refuses to comply with the provisions of this act is subject to a fine not to exceed $25.00 for the first offense following initial notification and not to exceed $100.00 for the second offense and not to exceed $200.00 for each offense thereafter. When there exists no local board of health or such board, body or officers having the authority to exercise the functions of the local board of health according to law in the municipality in which a violation of this act has allegedly occurred, the State Department of Health and Senior Services shall exercise the functions of the local boards of heath for purposes of this act.
b. Any penalty recovered under the provisions of this act shall be recovered by and in the name of the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services or by and in the name of the local board of health. When the plaintiff is the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services, the penalty recovered shall be paid by the commissioner into the treasury of the State. When the plaintiff is a local board of health, the penalty recovered shall be paid by the local board into the treasury of the municipality where the violation occurred.
c. Every municipal court shall have jurisdiction over proceedings to enforce and collect any penalty imposed because of a violation of any provision of this act, if the violation has occurred within the territorial jurisdiction of the court. The proceedings shall be summary and in accordance with the “the penalty enforcement law,” N.J.S.2A:58-1 et seq. Process shall be in the nature of a summons or warrant and shall issue only at the suit of the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services, or the local board of health, as the case may be, as plaintiff.
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