Nursing Mothers Are Now Protected Under the NJLAD
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) was amended to prohibit employers from discriminating against women who breastfeed or express milk during breaks. The amendment also requires employers to provide reasonable break time each day, and a suitable location for an employee who is breastfeeding to express milk in private.
The New Jersey Legislature explained that these amendments were designed to ensure that new mothers are able to breastfeed free of discrimination, harassment, or restrictive accommodations. Providing these protections to new mothers in the workplace has become a national trend—New Jersey is now the 18th state to do so. Federal law also provides similar protection to breastfeeding mothers, but it only applies to employers with at least 50 employees.
The amendment does, however, provide a few protections for employers. First, employers are not required to compensate employees while they are breastfeeding unless they already receive compensation during similar break periods. Second, employers will not have to accommodate employees by providing reasonable break periods and a suitable breastfeeding location if it would pose "an undue hardship on business operations." The amendment does not provide any guidance regarding what might constitute an "undue hardship" as it relates to a woman who is breastfeeding, though courts may apply existing principles to this new scenario.
Ballard Spahr's Labor and Employment Group regularly assists employers with developing anti-discrimination policies, anti-discrimination training, investigations of alleged discrimination, and defense of discrimination claims under state and federal law.
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