Articles Posted in Pregnancy Discrimination

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breastfeedingNew Jersey has expanded the array of people protected from discrimination under the Law Against Discrimination. Starting in January 2018, New Jersey is the 18th state to prohibit employers from engaging in workplace discrimination against women who are breastfeeding. The additions to the NJLAD also require employers to provide accommodations to breastfeeding mothers in order to allow them to take breaks to nurse or pump at work. If you suffer adverse employment treatment due to your breastfeeding, or your employer does not provide you with a proper accommodation for feeding or pumping, you may have a legal case against your employer. As with any instance of workplace discrimination, you should contact an experienced New Jersey pregnancy discrimination attorney to discuss your rights and your options.

The new law, which was signed by the governor on Jan. 8 and went into effect immediately, added breastfeeding as one of the bases upon which employers cannot discriminate in New Jersey, reported. This places breastfeeding alongside pregnancy, sex, marital status, race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, affectional or sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity or expression, and disability (among other things) as prohibited bases of workplace discrimination under the Law Against Discrimination.

The law includes both the activities of directly feeding the child and pumping breast milk for use later. The new provision requires employers, as an accommodation, to provide nursing employees with a private space in which to express milk. That space must be near the nursing mother’s work station and must not be a toilet.

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pregnant womanToo 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 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.

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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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