Returning to work as a breastfeeding mother

Going back to work after a new baby can be stressful enough on its own. When you have to worry about expressing breastmilk during the workday as well, things can be doubly stressful.

Let’s discuss your rights as a nursing mother, including a new law expanding protections for working nursing mothers in New Jersey.

New State Law in New Jersey Protects Nursing Mothers from Workplace Discrimination

On January 8, 2018, Governor Chris Christie signed a law prohibiting discrimination against women who breastfeed in the work place. Under the new law, women cannot be fired or discriminated against based on breastfeeding at work.

The new law expands the civil rights protections provided by the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination to include breastfeeding mothers.

The law requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for mothers to nurse or pump milk for their babies. Employers must allow breaks during the day for women and a private location for women to pump milk for their babies or breastfeed.

The new law extends existing protections provided by the Affordable Care Act to include exempt (salaried) employees as well as all employers, including small businesses with less than 50 workers. New Jersey employers must comply unless they prove that accommodating an employee would pose “an undue hardship on business operations.”

The Affordable Care Act and Pregnancy Discrimination Act Also Offer Protection

The Affordable Care Act requires employers with 50 or more employees to permit non-exempt (usually hourly) employees who are breastfeeding mothers to take breaks to express breast milk. Breastfeeding mothers must be provided with a private location (other than a restroom) for their breaks.

Nursing breaks do not need to be compensated. However, if an employee uses a break that would normally be compensated, she would not need to clock out to express breast milk during that break.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) also provides protections to nursing mothers. The PDA protects against discrimination “because of or on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.” Breastfeeding women must be treated the same as any other employee with a non-incapacitating medical condition. That includes being allowed to modify work schedules.

Call Us for a Free Consultation Now

If you believe your employer is not recognizing your rights as a nursing mother, or is discriminating against you for exercising those rights, you should speak to an attorney to find out about potential legal remedies that may be available to you under the applicable laws in your state.

Email us at murphy@phillyemploymentlawyer.com, or call (267) 273-1054 for a free consultation.