On October 21st, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into legislation a new law that allows women who are breastfeeding to postpone jury duty for up to two years. The goal of the “commonsense measure” is to make the lives of breastfeeding moms easier.
Women who wish to postpone their jury summons due to breastfeeding need to submit a doctor’s note that simply verifies they’re breastfeeding. The law only applies to postponing services that haven’t already happened, or been previously excused or postponed. The law is effective immediately.
Other states that allow for jury duty accommodations are California, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah and Virginia, as well as Puerto Rico.
The laws are typically less generous than New York’s new legislation in some of the other states. In California, breastfeeding mothers may postpone for up to a year with an option to renew if still breastfeeding, according to the state’s 2000 legislation. Those in Oregon wishing to postpone due to breastfeeding are “excused upon request,” according to the state’s Judicial Department. Other states allow less time or will just field requests for private lactation rooms while serving jury duty.
Past issues related to parents of young children on jury duty include a judge criticizing mom jurors for not having adequate childcare and a juror being sent to a cramped bathroom with a chair after requesting a space to pump. While we’re far from giving breastfeeding women all the rights they deserve, this is a step in the right direction. Keep it up, New York and we hope all states follow suit!