Pregnancy can bring major life changes, but one of them should never be discrimination in the workplace. Women who become pregnant have various employment protections, yet, forms of pregnancy discrimination still occur in work settings across the United States.
Discrimination based on pregnancy is covered under various employment laws, including the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), state-by-state employment discrimination laws, and others. Pregnant workers cannot be discriminated against and those protections under federal and state laws include protection from unfair hiring practices, denial of a promotion or raises, and disciplinary action for requesting accommodation, among others. Federal law prohibits treating pregnant employees differently from other disabled employees under the ADA. The employer should provide accommodations, which are reasonable modifications for the pregnant worker to perform their essential job duties, such as offering light duty or disability leave.
New Jersey’s Additional Workplace Protections
There are limitations to federal anti-discrimination laws as some apply to only employers with 15 or more workers, which clearly excludes millions of Americans employed in small businesses. In response to this and other barriers, numerous states and municipalities have enacted stronger regulations that supersede the federal law. In New Jersey, all pregnant workers are covered under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), which was enacted in 2014 and provided new protections beyond federal law. Prior to the PWFA, New Jersey already had stringent workplace protections against other forms of employment discrimination under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD). The law now includes a specific category for pregnant employees.
The PWFA added pregnancy to the list of protected employment categories under state law. Before, the law had only stated that employers must treat pregnant workers as any other worker with a disability. Under the ADA, accommodations would be granted if it allowed the employee to perform their essential job functions at their current position. The PWFA significantly improved this by specifically citing pregnant workers as a category for protection, not including them with disabled employees. It also requires employers to grant a reasonable accommodation to remain in the workplace, which can include job restructuring or assigning the employee to a different position.
This goes beyond light duty work and can cover other workplace needs during pregnancy, such as additional rest and water breaks, assistance with certain job tasks, and potential reassignment to a less strenuous position. Yet, these are still not guaranteed accommodations and an employer can claim a hardship based on business needs. Because this area of employment law is complex, victims are encouraged to seek the advice of an experienced employment lawyer.
Cherry Hill Employment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Advocate for Victims of Pregnancy Discrimination
If you have been discriminated against as a pregnant employee, our Cherry Hill employment lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. are experienced in employment law and will fight to obtain the justice you deserve. Please contact us online or call us at 215-569-1999 for a free consultation. Located in Pennsauken, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients throughout South Jersey.