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Understanding your rights as a nursing mother in New Jersey

If you are a nursing mother in New Jersey, you are considered a protected individual under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. In 2018, the New Jersey Legislature signed amendments to the existing law that makes it illegal for an employer of any size to discriminate against an employee for breastfeeding during work hours.

Accommodation requirements

The recent amendment also requires employers in New Jersey to provide nursing mothers additional breastfeeding accommodations. First, employers must provide “reasonable break time” for mothers to nurse their babies or to pump breast milk.

Nursing mothers can use their paid breaks for lactation purposes. However, the law does not require employers to pay nursing mothers for breaks if they were not paying for breaks before. Nonetheless, nursing mothers are still allowed to take unpaid breaks throughout the day as needed. Breastfeeding advocate groups suggest a reasonable amount of time is 15 to 20 minutes, as often as a mother needs to do so.

Second, employers must provide a private room for breastfeeding purposes. According to a recent amendment, the location must be a “suitable room or other location with privacy.” The law explicitly states that the location cannot be a “toilet stall.”

Second, employers must provide a private room for breastfeeding purposes. According to a recent amendment, the location must be a “suitable room or other location with privacy.” The law explicitly states that the location cannot be a “toilet stall.”

How is this different from the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)?

 

The FLSA is a federal law that prohibits employers from discrimination against protected employees. Since 2010, the FLSA has required employers to provide reasonable accommodation time and private breastfeeding spaces to nursing mothers. However, FLSA allows an exception for employers with less than 50 employees if the accommodation would “impose undue hardship.” The NJLAD will now provide nursing mothers working for smaller employers breastfeeding accommodations that they might not have received before.

While the NJLAD and FLSA provide protections for nursing mothers, workplace discrimination can still happen. If you are a victim of employment discrimination, consult with an experienced employment law attorney today to discuss your options.

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