Articles Posted in Pregnancy Discrimination

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Pregnant womanThirty-nine years ago this fall, President Jimmy Carter signed into law the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Thirty-six years later, Governor Chris Christie signed into law New Jersey’s Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which added pregnancy discrimination to the list of illegal forms of discrimination under the Law Against Discrimination. Despite all of these advances in statutory laws, though, pregnancy discrimination still occurs, unfortunately. One of the keys, if you think your employer has discriminated against you based upon your pregnancy, is to contact experienced New Jersey discrimination counsel right away. One North Jersey expectant mom did exactly that and, based upon a recent ruling by the Appellate Division, will be able to take her discrimination case to trial.

The pregnant woman was a medical technician at a clinic in Union County. The end of her employment, as described in her complaint, was an unfortunately common scenario. In late July 2014, she notified her employer that she was pregnant, and hers was a high-risk pregnancy. Less than one week later, one of the doctors who ran the clinic ordered her to wash the second-floor windows. In her first 18 months, the technician had received exactly zero directives to clean windows. Allegedly thinking that the doctor was joking, the technician responded, “I don’t do windows.”

The same doctor issued the same command twice more that day. Allegedly, the technician refused each time because, at her diminutive height, cleaning the floor-to-ceiling windows would’ve meant climbing a ladder, which can be very unhealthy for women with high-risk pregnancies. After the third refusal, the doctor fired her.

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pregnantIt is fairly well-known that an employer who undertakes an action harmful toward an employee simply because that employee is pregnant is liable for impermissible discrimination. However, what happens when the employer allegedly acts out of concern for the mother-to-be or her unborn child? The answer, in short, is that if an employer’s action is professionally adverse for the pregnant employee, regardless of the reasons, the action is discriminatory. A debt collection company employee and the revocation of her promotion recently served as a case in point.

The facts underlying this case are something that takes place unfortunately too often. Carolyn was a successful employee with a debt collection company in Hackensack. Things were probably exciting for Carolyn because she had just earned a promotion to collections manager with the company. On the personal side, she was also pregnant.

When the employee announced her pregnancy to her employer, things changed dramatically. The employer took back the promotion. The employer concluded that the woman’s pregnancy, which would last through the employer’s busy tax season, would be a problem. Additionally, the employer unilaterally decided that the stress and long hours involved in being a collections manager with their company were not conducive to the overall health of a pregnant woman. Instead, the employer told Carolyn to “focus on her health,” according to an HR Daily Advisor report.

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