Effectively immediately, New Jersey employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees because they choose to breastfeed. Governor Christie signed S. 2709, bringing New Jersey breastfeeding protections in line with 17 other states that have enacted similar civil rights protections to breastfeeding employees.
The New Jersey law requires employers to provide a private space, which does not include a bathroom stall, for use by breastfeeding employees. Breastfeeding employees must be afforded breaks throughout the work day. These breaks are unpaid, unless the employer already compensates their employees during other break time. The undue hardship defense will be available to all employers, not just small businesses, so these accommodations are not required if an employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would be overly burdensome for their business.
While the Federal Labor Standards Act offers similar protections to employees of companies with 50 or more workers, the New Jersey law applies to all workers and does not contain a one-year limitation on this requirement, as found in the federal law. Employers must be aware of the recent trend of expanding breastfeeding protections at the state level and ensure compliance with all applicable laws.