Source: Press Of Atlantic City
The new year began with a win for working women in New Jersey as new and strengthened protections for breastfeeding mothers were signed into law: it would be a violation for a working woman to be fired or discriminated against for taking that time to pump milk.
Departing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie approved a new state law that makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against women who choose to breastfeed or pump milk at work. The law boosts existing federal civil rights protections for working mothers. He also signed into law a bill that makes breast pumps, breast pump collection and storage supplies and certain services to breast pump tax-free in New Jersey.
The new civil rights protections fall under the state’s Law Against Discrimination. There would be violations and penalties for employers who do not comply with the new law, which requires employers to provide reasonable break time each day and an appropriate location, other than a bathroom stall, for a woman to pump milk.
It also gives women who believe they aren’t being given appropriate accommodations at their places of work a better legal leg to stand on if they chose to make complaints and seek those accommodations to breastfeed at work.
The bill still allows for exemptions in cases that the requirements would place an “undue hardship” on the employer. Things under consideration for undue hardship, as outlined it the law, include the overall size of the business in regards to number of employees, type of facilities size of budget, type of the employer’s operations, nature and cost of the accommodation needed, and the extent to which the accommodations would involve waiving an essential requirement of a job.
Sarah Chaikin, lactation consultant at Southern New Jersey Perinatal Cooperative, said the new law takes those rights under the federal act and gives a redundant layer of protection in New Jersey, which provides more inclusive, comprehensive protections. Also, she hopes the new law will have a trickle-down effect in that the culture around breastfeeding with change, grow and become more acknowledged by employers and in the workplace.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding, when possible, for the first six months of a baby’s life for the benefits of nutrition and disease-fighting substances that protect babies from illness.