September 29, 2020

Volume X, Number 273

September 29, 2020

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September 28, 2020

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New York State Clarifies Rights of Working Mothers

New York State has amended its Public Health Law through enactment of two pieces of legislation relating to breastfeeding and expression of breast milk. The legislation includes specific provisions applicable to employers.

The first of the two bills, effective immediately, establishes the right to breastfeed a baby at an employee’s place of employment in an environment that does not discourage breastfeeding or the provision of breast milk. The bill also amends the Public Health Law to empower the commissioner to conduct educational activities to encourage and facilitate employers to establish such workplace environments. The legislation envisions environments that may include sanitary locations for breastfeeding and availability of refrigerators for storage of breast milk. It is unclear whether employers now have some affirmative obligations to allow an employee who is nursing to bring her child to work.

Additionally, unlike the second bill, discussed below, and existing New York Labor Law limiting breastfeeding rights to up to three years following childbirth, this bill does not establish a fixed time limit. Accordingly, it is unclear whether employers have any affirmative obligations beyond the three-year period after childbirth.

The second bill, effective January 1, 2016, reaffirms existing rights and obligations established by the New York Labor Law providing for employees’ rights to reasonable unpaid breaks to express breast milk at work for up to three years following childbirth. It also specifically provides that such rights include the right to pump breast milk. Since the new legislation does not affirmatively state that pumping must be for the employee’s nursing child, an argument can be made that an employee has the right to pump for other reasons, such as to act as a wet nurse.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2020National Law Review, Volume V, Number 336

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About this Author

Richard Greenberg, Jackson Lewis, workplace grievances lawyer, arbitrations litigation attorney
Principal

Richard Greenberg is a Principal in the New York City, New York, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He advises both unionized and union-free clients on a full-range of labor and employee relations matters.

With respect to traditional labor matters, Mr. Greenberg represents clients in collective bargaining negotiations, labor disputes, grievances and arbitrations, proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board, and in state and federal court. Mr. Greenberg also advises clients on the legal aspects of remaining union-free....

212-545-4080
Daniel J. Jacobs, Jackson Lewis law firm, Labor Employment Attorney
Shareholder

Daniel J. Jacobs is a Shareholder in the New York City, New York, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He assists both unionized and union-free clients with a full-range of labor and employee relations matters.
With respect to traditional labor matters, Mr. Jacobs represents clients in collective bargaining negotiations, contingency planning, labor disputes, grievances and arbitrations, proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board, and in state and federal court.
Mr. Jacobs also has experience assisting clients in numerous industries with the development and maintenance of personnel policies, reorganizations and reductions in force, purchase/sale transactions, sexual harassment and other workplace conduct rules, wrongful discharge and other workplace litigation.

212-545-4000
Susan M. Corcoran, Jackson Lewis, fair credit reporting lawyer, Labor Policy Attorney
Principal

Susan M. Corcoran is a Principal in the White Plains, New York, office of Jackson Lewis, P.C. Ms. Corcoran is a seasoned employment counselor and litigator and is often thought of as the “go to” person on national workplace law issues for her clients.

She is one of the leaders of the firm’s Background Check Resource Group, and serves as a resource on fair credit reporting act issues, as well as “ban the box” strategies. She taught a graduate employment law class for many years at Manhattanville College and frequently speaks...

914-872-6871
Christopher M. Valentino, EEOC litigation, labor attorney, Jackson Lewis Law firm, employment litigator
Office Managing Principal

Christopher M. Valentino is Office Managing Principal of the Long Island, New York, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. and is a member of the firm’s Board of Directors. Mr. Valentino represents companies in matters relating to traditional labor, equal employment opportunity, employment litigation and related matters.

Mr. Valentino has extensive experience in all matters relating to EEO compliance and workplace laws and a frequent speaker at management education programs. Since joining Jackson Lewis in September 2000, he has regularly counseled clients in the...

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