In one of his last acts as the governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie signed into law an amendment to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination that adds breastfeeding employees to those protected against workplace discrimination. According to the amendment, not only will employers be required to provide breastfeeding employees with reasonable accommodations to enable the activity, but are also prohibited from firing breastfeeding employees on the grounds that they are breastfeeding, discriminating against them in compensation or other employment benefits or conditions, or refusing to hire them on the grounds that they are breastfeeding. They also are prohibited from treating breastfeeding women employees, or those who may be impacted by breastfeeding activities, less favorably.
The new breastfeeding law is structured similarly to those having to do with disabilities. Employers are required to provide accommodations for women who are breastfeeding in the same way that they would other employees who are affected by similar (but different) circumstances. The only scenario under which accommodations are not required is where the employer can show proof that doing so would impose an undue hardship on their organization. Factors that would support a waiver of the law’s requirements might include the size of the company, the type of operation, the nature of the accommodation needed and the extent to which the accommodation would involve the employee not fulfilling an essential requirement of their job.
The New Jersey breastfeeding amendment goes beyond the requirements put in place by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, as it applies to all employers and employees in the state and does not limit the amount of time that breastfeeding breaks are provided. It also permits employers of any size to demonstrate undue hardship, where the federal law only permits employers with fewer than 50 employees to do so.
The new law became effective on January 8, 2018. If after that date you apply for a job in the state of New Jersey and being discriminated against or are denied reasonable accommodations because you are breastfeeding, please feel free contact our office for a free initial consultation. We can help you get the accommodations and compensation to which you are legally entitled.