- New Jersey's governor has signed a law that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees because they choose to breastfeed, Fisher Phillips reports. The law takes effect immediately.
- The law also requires that employers accommodate breastfeeding employees with unpaid breaks and a private place to express milk, unless doing so would create an undue hardship on business operations, the firm says.
- While the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) includes similar requirements for nonexempt employees, New Jersey's law applies to all workers, according to Fisher Phillips. The state law also doesn't limit the accommodation requirements to one year as the FLSA does. Finally, the FLSA only allows small employers to use the undue hardship defense, but New Jersey makes it available to employers of any size.
The FLSA's breastfeeding requirements are relatively new, a product of an amendment from the Affordable Care Act. A study found that, five years after the amendment was enacted, only 40% breastfeeding employees had access to a private space or were allowed to take breaks.
With states now adopting breastfeeding protections, too, employers will need to ensure compliance with all applicable laws. For a full list, see the National Conference of State Legislatures' Breastfeeding State Laws.
Employers who don't comply risk not only enforcement actions but also engagement and retention problems. In a tight labor market, accommodations like these may make all the difference.