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$3.8 Million – The Cost of Failing to Provide A Lactation Room

$3.8 Million dollars. That’s what the City of Tucson was ordered to pay a firefighter because they failed to provide adequate space for her to pump milk at work. 

As we have previously written, New York City laws requiring a lactation room and lactation accommodation policy recently took effect.  The Tucson case is a good reminder failure to comply with the law can be quite costly for employers.  It can also cause bad publicity. 

Here are a few key reminders for NYC employers:  

  • What is required for a lactation room?
  • A lactation room must be a clean space, other than a restroom; shielded from view; and free from intrusion from others.
  • A lactation room must have:
    • at least one electrical outlet;
    • a surface, such as a table or a counter, where employees can place a breast pump;
    • a chair;
    • nearby access to running water; and
    • a refrigerator to store breast milk.

NYS employers are also required to have a lactation accommodation policy which must:   

  • state how an employee can submit a request for a lactation room;
  • guarantee the employer will respond to requests as quickly as possible, no later than within five (5) business days;
  • explain what to do when two or more employees need to use the lactation room at the same time;
  • state the employer will provide reasonable break time for the employee to express breast milk; and
  • explain that if providing all aspects of the lactation room normally required by law would create an undue hardship for the employer, the employer will have a cooperative dialogue with the employee to determine an appropriate accommodation to enable the employee to express breast milk at work.

Employers outside of New York City should note many state and federal laws require reasonable break time for breast feeding.  Therefore, even if your company is not based in New York City it does not mean there are no applicable obligations.

Brody and Associates regularly provides counsel on civil rights issues and employment laws in general.  If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.454.0560.