On March 18, 2019, new laws went into effect in New York City requiring lactation rooms in certain City spaces, requiring employers to provide lactation rooms, and requiring employers to implement a lactation room accommodation policy.

Employers in New York City must now provide a lactation room that is within a reasonable proximity to employees’ work areas, including a refrigerator suitable for breast milk storage, an electrical outlet in the lactation room, and access to nearby running water.

Employers must also have a written policy regarding lactation. Such policies must provide details about the lactation room and provide the procedure for requesting an accommodation relating to lactation.

The policy on accommodations must:

  1. Specify the means by which an employee may submit a request for a lactation room;
  2. Require the employer to respond to a request for a lactation room within a reasonable amount of time not to exceed five business days;
  3. Provide a procedure to follow when two or more individuals need to use the lactation room at the same time, including contact information for any follow up required;
  4. State that the employer shall provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk, consistent with section 206-c of the Labor Law; and
  5. State that if the request for a lactation room poses an undue hardship on the employer, the employer shall engage in a cooperative dialogue.

These new laws do not alter the existing right to breastfeed in public pursuant to Article 7 of the Civil Rights Law.