New Law Expands Rights to Express Breast Milk at Work in New Jersey
Returning to paid employment can make it difficult for many workers to meet their breastfeeding goals. When a breastfeeding mother is separated from her baby for more than a few hours a day, it is necessary and important for her to express milk from her breasts at appropriate intervals to maintain her milk supply, to provide sufficient breastmilk to her child’s care provider and to keep her breasts healthy and comfortable. Fortunately, there are both federal and state laws that protect breastfeeding employees in New Jersey who wish to pump at work.
Effective Jan. 8, 2018, New Jersey law (P.L.2017, Chapter 263) requires protections and accommodations for employees who breastfeed and wish to pump in the workplace. The new law provides:
- “Breastfeeding” is now a protected class under the NJ Law Against Discrimination (N.J.S.A. 10:5-12) (LAD), so it is illegal to discriminate against a person in employment, housing and other contexts on the basis of their breastfeeding status.
- All employers must provide reasonable accommodations to breastfeeding employees. This protection covers more workers than existing federal law protections.
In addition, the existing federal “Break Time for Nursing Mothers” provisions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) (29 U.S.C.207(r)1-4 ) require employers to provide “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express milk.” This law applies to employees who are non-exempt from the FSLA, which includes employees who are eligible for overtime pay.
Below is a chart that summarizes the legal protections of the state and federal breastfeeding accommodation laws. An employee may decide which law applies to her situation. This chart if for information purposes only. If you have further questions, you may contact the NJ Division on Civil Rights here, the Wage and Hour Division of the US Dept. of Labor here or obtain legal counsel.
**For more information on who is covered by the Break Time for Nursing Mothers Law, see http://www.usbreastfeeding.org/p/cm/ld/fid=231. You may also call the Wage and Hour Division of the US Dept of Labor at 1-866-487-9243, or consult the Fair Labor Standards Act Advisor.
Resources for Employees Returning to Work:
Breastfeeding USA, https://breastfeedingusa.org/content/breastfeeding-counselor-locations
La Leche League of NJ, www.llli.org/web/newjersey.html
NJ WIC Program, http://www.nj.gov/health/fhs/wic/nutrition-breastfeeding/
US Breastfeeding Committee, Workplace Accommodations to Support and Protect Breastfeeding, http://www.usbreastfeeding.org/p/cm/ld/fid=196
US Breastfeeding Committee, Workplace Support in Federal Law, http://www.usbreastfeeding.org/workplace-law
US Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health, Breastfeeding and Going Back to Work, https://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-home-work-and-public/breastfeeding-and-going-back-work
US Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health, It’s Only Natural, Breastfeeding and Going Back to Work, https://www.womenshealth.gov/itsonlynatural/fitting-it-into-your-life/index.html
US Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health, The Business Case for Breastfeeding, https://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-home-work-and-public/breastfeeding-and-going-back-work/business-case f
US Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, Fact Sheet #73: Break Time for Nursing Mothers under the FLSA, https://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs73.htm
US Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, Frequently Asked Questions—Break Time for Working Mothers, https://www.dol.gov/whd/nursingmothers/faqbtnm.htm
ZipMilk.org. Find local breastfeeding support for your return to work through this statewide breastfeeding support database. http://www.zipmilk.org/