Earlier this year, New Jersey enacted a law to protect breastfeeding employees and require employers to provide certain accommodations to breastfeeding employees.
Notably, this law required reasonable accommodations as a general matter but also noted that reasonable accommodation “shall include reasonable break time each day to the employee and a suitable room or other location with privacy, other than a toilet stall, in close proximity to the work area for the employee to express breast milk.” Employers are therefore required to provide reasonable accommodation generally, which must include but is not necessarily limited to this particular accommodation, unless they can demonstrate undue hardship.
On October 29, 2018, a group of New Jersey state legislators introduced a bill (A-4686) to expand the scope of required accommodations to breastfeeding employees. The bill makes four changes to current law.
First, current law applies the accommodation obligation to an “employee breast feeding her infant child.” A-4686 removes the word infant, clarifying that this obligation applies to breastfeeding beyond infancy.
Second, the bill notes that the reasonable break time accommodation should be “for such time as the employee desires.”
Third, the bill adds a second specific required accommodation to employers, which would be required to provide “a modified work schedule” to the employee.
Fourth, the bill clarifies that a restroom (as opposed to merely a toilet stall) is not an acceptable location for an employer to provide to an employee for the purpose of expressing breast milk.
While the proposed language changes are short, this bill represents a significant expansion of employers’ accommodation obligations. We’ll keep an eye on this piece of legislation as it moves through the legislative session and update on any new developments.
In the meantime, New Jersey employers should review policies and practices to make sure they incorporate the requirements of the law enacted earlier this year.