Seyfarth Synopsis: In compliance with legislation passed last year, the New York City Commission on Human Rights has released model lactation accommodation policies and a model lactation accommodation request form, which offer guidance regarding employer obligations to provide lactation rooms and implement a policy and process for handling lactation-related accommodation requests. The law went into effect on March 18, 2019.
Last year, the New York City Council passed a series of bills that amended the New York City Administrative Code to address the needs of nursing mothers in the workplace. Our previous Management Alert and One Minute Memo outlined the requirements under the laws. As we wrote, the laws expanded New York State’s labor law requirements for lactation rooms and also mandated that employers put in place a policy and process for addressing lactation-based accommodation requests.
With regard to the policy requirement, the law directed the Commission on Human Rights, in collaboration with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, to develop a model policy and request form and to make both available on the Commission’s website. Yesterday, the Commission published three model lactation policies (one for employers with dedicated lactation rooms, one for employers with a multi-purpose space, and employers with no available space) and a model request form.
Notably, it appears that the laws apply to employers with four or more employees, although we are hopeful that the City will soon issue FAQs that clarify the laws’ coverage. (The City Council’s summary of the laws that was previously published indicated the law applied to employers with fifteen or more employees.) This expands coverage to most employers within New York City. While employers may look to the released materials as a guide, employers are also encouraged to contact their local employment counsel and to create policies and processes that are tailored to the their unique business, workplace, and employees.