NJ EMPLOYMENT LAW CLIENT ALERT: An Amendment to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination “NJLAD” Provides Protection And Accommodations for Nursing Mothers

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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recently signed legislation that amends the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination "NJLAD" to prohibit employers from discriminating against employees for breastfeeding. In that regard, an employer may not refuse to hire, discharge or require an employee to retire as a result of the employee’s breastfeeding. Further, the amendment prohibits employers from discriminating against any breastfeeding employee in regards to the employee’s compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment.

In addition to the prohibitions against discrimination, the new law requires that employers provide accommodations to breastfeeding employees. Specifically, employers must provide reasonable breaks during the work day for an employee to express breast milk. Further, employers must provide a private room or other location, which is not a toilet stall, in close proximity to the work area for employees to use to express breast milk. Significantly, the law further prohibits an employer from penalizing an employee for requesting or using the accommodation. 

The mandatory accommodations required by the new law apply unless an employer can show the accommodations result in an undue hardship on the employer’s business operations. The factors to determine whether an accommodation will impose an undue hardship on the operation of an employer’s business include:

  • The overall size of the employer’s business with respect to the number of employees, number and types of facilities and size of budget;
  • The type of the employer’s operations, including the composition and structure of the employer’s workforce;
  • The nature and cost of the accommodation needed, taking into consideration the availability of tax credits, tax deductions and outside funding; and
  • The extent to which the accommodation would involve waiver of an essential requirement of a job as opposed to a tangential or non-business necessity requirement.

In light of the amendment to the NJLAD, employers must ensure that their employment policies and procedures are updated and, if necessary, their physical space is modified to provide the required break time accommodations for employees. A failure to act can potentially subject an employer to significant liability. 

To reference the amendment as it was presented to the governor, click here.

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