The types of accommodations needed for nursing mothers is governed by state and municipal law, and, therefore, depends on where a company and its offices are based.  New York provides a good example of the types of accommodations required under some state laws, and the types of enhancements that some cities push for beyond state minimums.  The following shows the requirements under state law, as well as the requirements that apply to most employers that have four or more employees and an office in New York City:

Requirement

New York State1

New York City2

Reasonable amount of breaks

Y

Y

Private sanitary space other than a restroom (with a chair and a flat surface on which to place a breast pump)

Y

Y

Electrical outlet

X

Y

Refrigerators for storing milk

X

Y

Written policy describing lactation room accommodations

X

Y

Employers that are considering drafting a lactation accommodation policy should consider in including the following items:

  1. Specify how an employee can submit a request for a lactation room;
  2. Indicate that the employer to respond to such a request no later than five (5) business days;
  3. Provide a procedure to follow when two (2) or more individuals need to use the lactation room at the same time, including the contact information for any follow-up required;
  4. State that the employer shall provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk;
  5. State that if the request for lactation room poses an undue hardship on the employer, the employer shall engage in a cooperative dialogue. 

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP has a team of knowledgeable lawyers and other professionals prepared to help employers address accommodations policies. If you or your organization would like more information on this or any other employment issue, please contact an attorney in the Employment and Labor practice group.


1. New York State Labor Law Section 2016-c.

2. New York City Council Int 0879-2018, Int. 905-2018