Too often, women across all fields of work face discriminatory hurdles in their employment. This is especially true for pregnant women and new mothers. Sometimes the bias will be overt comments, while other times it may be more subtle, like the gender makeup of employees let go in a round of layoffs. Regardless of the particular details, if you’ve faced pregnancy discrimination, it’s against the law, and you need skilled New Jersey pregnancy discrimination lawyers to help you through the legal process.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a federal lawsuit against a North Jersey real estate firm, accusing the employer of engaging in pregnancy discrimination against several of its female employees. According to a philly.com news report, the EEOC’s complaint contained some shocking allegations, like a firm supervisor who said that women “get stupid” when they get pregnant and that “pregnancy makes you retarded.” For one employee named Brianna, the alleged discrimination included being belittled, being given “onerous” assignments, and eventually being fired. That case is just beginning its path through the system in the District of New Jersey.
Unfortunately, Brianna’s story is not unique. Late last year, the District of New Jersey entered a ruling as part of an engineer’s lawsuit against her former employer for pregnancy discrimination. The engineer, Adrienne, had worked for her employer since 2003. In 2010, the employer valued her enough to promote her to a project engineer position. In September 2012, she notified her employer that she was pregnant. By the following April, the employer had laid Adrienne off.
Adrienne sued for pregnancy discrimination under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD). New Jersey courts have long recognized pregnant women as a protected group under the LAD. In a discrimination case like Adrienne’s, there are multiple hurdles you must clear to succeed. First off, you must make what’s called a “prima facie” showing. This means, in practical terms, that you must show the court that you are a member of a protected class, that you were qualified to do your job, and that you were terminated and replaced with someone outside the class. In situations involving layoffs, it is enough to show that the employer laid you off but retained someone outside the protected group.
Adrienne was a pregnant woman who was qualified to do her project engineer job, and she was laid off while at least one similarly situated male colleague was not. This was enough to meet the requirements for a “prima facie” showing.
Once you do that, the law requires the employer to provide a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for its actions. Adrienne’s firm pointed to several clients it lost in 2013, asserting that, based upon the clients it still had going forward, the male engineer was better suited for that work than Adrienne was.
Finally, if the employer states a legitimate reason, the employee gets an opportunity to prove to the court that the stated reason was really just a pretext for discrimination. In Adrienne’s situation, she had some suspicious statements allegedly made by her supervisor that raised the viable possibility that the employer was actually motivated by discrimination. When Adrienne confronted the supervisor about the layoffs, the supervisor allegedly asked Adrienne if she really would have been willing to travel “with a new baby at home” to a job site in South Plainfield (which was located some 90 miles and nearly two hours by car from the two South Jersey sites where Adrienne had previously worked.) This alleged query raised a distinct possibility that the employer factored in Adrienne’s status as a new mom when it decided to lay her off, which meant she had enough to go forward with her case.
The experienced New Jersey pregnancy discrimination attorneys at Phillips & Associates have been working for many years to protect the rights of mistreated workers throughout New Jersey. Whether you’ve suffered from discrimination as a result of pregnancy or discrimination on some other ground, contact our team online or at (609) 436-9087 today to set up a free and confidential consultation. Talk to one of our skilled attorneys to find out how we can help you.
More blog posts:
Fired Five Days After Disclosing Pregnancy, Medical Technician Allowed to Proceed in New Jersey Discrimination Case, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, Aug. 22, 2017
Regardless of Underlying Motives, New Jersey Employer Discriminated When it Revoked Pregnant Employee’s Promotion, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, June 21, 2017