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Area Governments Continue to Pass More Legislation Expanding Protections for Breastfeeding Mothers in New York and New Jersey Workplaces

The New York City Council made headlines recently as a result of two new bills it passed. Those new bills related to a very important, although still emerging, area when it comes to protecting employees from impermissible sex discrimination. That area is discrimination against lactating mothers. The new bills require employers in the city, who have 15 or more employees, to create an appropriate place to nurse or express breast milk. The other bill requires those same employers to craft a written lactation policy and to provide that policy to all new hires. Lactating employees in New Jersey already have many of these protections. If you think that you’ve suffered discrimination at work due to your breastfeeding, or your employer has failed to accommodate your breastfeeding properly, reach out to a New Jersey employment attorney to discover more about what options you may have.

The New York City bill regarding a lactation space set out some very specific requirements designed to protect lactating employees’ privacy and to allow them to express breast milk in a reasonably safe and comfortable space. The bill says that the space for lactation must be someplace other than a bathroom, that it must be sanitary and that it must be “shielded from view and free from intrusion.”

The bill requires the space to have certain minimum accessories, such as an electrical outlet, a chair, a sink and a surface that can accommodate a breast pump. The bill doesn’t require employers to dedicate a space exclusively for lactation, but if a lactating employee is using the room, it cannot be used for other things while that employee is nursing or “pumping.”

Back in January, New Jersey became the 18th state to enact protections for lactating employees. The new protections, which are now part of the Law Against Discrimination, require that employers set up a space for employees to nurse or “pump” milk, and outline certain minimum standards that the space must have. Like New York City, New Jersey does not allow employers simply to shuffle lactating employees off to the restroom. New Jersey law says that a lactating employee must receive a “suitable room” or other space “with privacy” and that this space cannot be a toilet stall.

New Jersey also requires that the space provided for lactating employees be something that is “in close proximity to the work area for the employee.” New Jersey does not, as New York City does, require that the space include an electrical outlet, a sink or a surface for placing items like a breast pump.

No exemption in New Jersey for small employers

A broader array of New Jersey employees are protected as compared to New York City. Unlike the New York City bill, there is no exception for small employers. So, even if you work for an employer that has fewer than 15 employees, you are entitled to the protections of the new lactation law in New Jersey. The only employers that are exempted in New Jersey are those that can demonstrate that providing this space for breastfeeding and/or expressing breast milk would impose an undue hardship on the employer’s business.

New Jersey law has, properly, evolved over the years to expand what it means to prohibit sex discrimination. Today, that prohibition includes discriminating against pregnant workers and discriminating against breastfeeding employees. If you’ve not received the accommodation required by the law, you may be entitled to compensation. The experienced New Jersey employment attorneys at Phillips & Associates are here to help. Reach us online or at (609) 436-9087 today to set up a free and confidential consultation and to find out how we can assist you.

More blog posts:

What Happens if I Was Fired in New Jersey for a Medical Condition Related to My Pregnancy?, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, April 27, 2018

New Law Extends New Jersey Law Against Discrimination’s Workplace Protections to Breastfeeding Mothers, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, Jan. 12, 2018

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