On January 8, 2018, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) was amended to require all New Jersey employers to provide reasonable accommodations to working mothers who breastfeed an infant child. These accommodations include a “reasonable break time” each day and a “suitable” room or private location, “other than a toilet stall,” in close proximity to the woman’s work area for the employee to breastfeed or express (i.e. pump) milk for the child. The amendment also makes it an unlawful employment practice and an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer to refuse to hire, discharge, require to retire, or otherwise discriminate against an individual who needs to express milk for her child.
Many employers, per the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), were already under an obligation to provide their employees who breastfeed with reasonable workplace accommodations. However, the NJLAD expands the obligations beyond those required by the FLSA; the FLSA only applies to employers with 50 or more employees, and limits the employer’s obligations for one year after the child’s birth. In contrast, the NJLAD applies to New Jersey employers that have one or more employees, and does not impose any time limitation on the employer’s obligation to accommodate a breastfeeding mother.
Employers must ensure immediate compliance with the new law and violators may be penalized up to $10,000 as a first offense. Exceptions may be made if the employer can demonstrate that providing the accommodation would pose an undue hardship on its operations. Factors to consider when deciding whether providing the accommodation would cause an undue hardship include: the number of employees, the nature and cost of the accommodation requested, and the extent to which the accommodation would involve waiver of the employee’s essential job requirements.
For more information about these requirements and compliance best practices, as well as assistance with drafting a breastfeeding accommodation policy, please feel free to contact Connell Foley’s Labor & Employment Practice Group.
Michael Shadiack is the Chair of Connell Foley’s Labor and Employment Practice Group. Representing a broad spectrum of employers and management personnel in the private and public sectors, he provides litigation defense and ...
Lauren Iannaccone’s broad range of experience in complex commercial transactions allows her to respond to significant emergent matters and assist clients efficiently and effectively. Lauren’s litigation experience ...