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Which Accommodations Must My New Jersey Employer Provide to Me During My Pregnancy?

pregnant womanYou have experienced one of life’s greatest joys – you found you are pregnant. You are looking forward to tackling the challenges of pregnancy as you continue to handle the challenges of your job. To make it happen, though, you need your employer to partner with you by providing you with certain reasonable accommodations. What, you may wonder, are your employer’s obligations under New Jersey law? Furthermore, you may wonder, what are my rights if my employer does nothing to accommodate my pregnancy? If you find yourself denied an accommodation in this position, you may be entitled to compensation through Law Against Discrimination litigation. Talk to a skilled New Jersey pregnancy discrimination attorney about your situation to find out what the legal system can do for you.

Pregnant workers in New Jersey, especially when it comes to their getting reasonable accommodations, have received a substantial boost in recent years. In January 2014, Governor Chris Christie signed into law the Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act. The 2014 law explicitly included pregnant workers as one of the protected groups when it comes to workplace discrimination.

The law went further, though. It said that if you, as a pregnant worker, ask your employer for an accommodation based upon the advice of your doctor, your employer is required to provide a reasonable accommodation unless the employer can demonstrate accommodating you would create an “undue hardship” for its business.

So what exactly does “accommodation” in this sense mean? It could be several different things or a combination of things. Several examples of reasonable accommodations that the text of the PWFA mentioned by name are:  extra bathroom breaks, extra breaks for consumption of water, extra rest breaks, help with physical tasks, a modified work schedule, or a temporary transfer to a less strenuous or dangerous position.

The statute also says that, when it comes to offering work accommodations for disabilities or conditions like pregnancy, employers are barred from treating non-pregnant employees better than they treat pregnant workers. In this area, the rules established by your specific employer may matter a lot. For example, say Carmen is an office professional who is pregnant with triplets, and her doctor has ordered her to begin full-time bed rest at week 20 of the pregnancy. Carmen wishes to continue working for a period of time after week 20 and can do everything her job demands except come to the office. David, who works for the same employer in the same position, had back surgery eight months ago. During part of David’s recovery, the employer allowed him to telecommute to shorten the amount of leave time he would be required to take. If the employer denies Carmen the telecommuting option because management thinks that Carmen’s continued working would be “too stressful” in “her state,” the different treatment between David and her could be proof of actionable discrimination.

In New Jersey, pregnant workers are entitled to substantial protection under the state’s anti-discrimination laws. This includes receiving reasonable accommodations to facilitate your continuing to work. If you are pregnant, and your employer denied you an accommodation, you may be entitled to an award of damages. To protect and assert your rights, consult the diligent New Jersey pregnancy discrimination attorneys at Phillips & Associates. Our experienced attorneys have spent many years working to get results for pregnant women harmed by illegal discrimination. Contact us online or at (609) 436-9087 today to set up a free and confidential consultation and to find out how we can help you.

More blog posts:

The Extent of Anti-Pregnancy Discrimination Protections for Working Women in New Jersey, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, April 13, 2018

Regardless of Underlying Motives, New Jersey Employer Discriminated When it Revoked Pregnant Employee’s Promotion, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, June 21, 2017

Photo Credit: Leah Kelley, [CC0 License], via Pexels

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