The New York City Council has passed bills which will amend the New York City Human Rights Law. The bills concern lactation in the workplace for nursing mothers. Today’s New York employment law blog discusses these changes.
Federal, state, and local laws regulate discrimination in the workplace based on an employee’s sex and pregnancy. The New York State Labor Law specifically addresses lactation in the workplace. But, the New York City Council has expanded on those protections via bills 879-A and 905-A, part of what is known as the Mother’s Day Legislative Package.
According to the bill’s summary, the law covers New York City employers with 15 or more employees. It requires those covered employers to provide lactation rooms and refrigerators for employees to express and store milk. The rooms must be in a “reasonable proximity” to the employee’s work areas. Lactation rooms must be sanitary and cannot be a restroom. Further, the rooms must provide privacy, provide an electrical outlet, and have a chair and surface area to place items including a breast pump. The room must also have access nearby to running water.
Employers may multi-purpose a room, meaning the room can be used for purposes other than solely lactation, but while an employee is using the room to express milk, preference must be given to that employee and the employer must so instruct other employees. Employers may assert that the provision of the room causes an undue hardship, but they must then engage in a “cooperative dialogue” with the employee.
Bill 905-A sets forth requirements for New York City employers to establish policies concerning lactation room accommodations. The bill also directs the New York City Human Rights Commission to prepare and publish a model lactation room accommodation policy.
Specifically, bill 905-A requires employers to develop and implement a written policy concerning lactation rooms. The policy must be distributed to all employees upon hire. The policy must state that employees have a right to request a lactation room and the policy must identify the process employees may follow to request a lactation room. The bill requires that the process state how an employee may request a lactation room, it must state that the employer will respond to the request in no more than 5 days, it must provide for a procedure when two or more employees need to use the lactation room at the same time, it must provide for reasonable breaks for employees to express milk, and the policy must set forth that if the lactation room creates an undue hardship on the employer, that the employer will engage in a cooperative dialogue.
The bills are not yet effective as they are waiting for the Mayor’s signature. But, after the Mayor signs them, they will take effect 120 days later. Accordingly, employers should begin thinking about compliance sooner rather than later.
To talk with a New York City employment lawyer contact Famighetti & Weinick, PLLC at 631-352-0050. Our employment attorneys can help with workplace compliance matters, including compliance with the new lactation room laws, New York State’s new sexual harassment laws, and other workplace regulations.
Our New York employment lawyers are also experienced in representing aggrieved workers. Victims of workplace discrimination, including pregnancy discrimination and sex discrimination, can schedule a free confidential consultation by calling 631-352-0050. For more information about employment law matters, visit our website at http://linycemploymentlaw.com.