Articles Posted in Pregnancy Discrimination

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The New York City Council made headlines recently as a result of two new bills it passed. Those new bills related to a very important, although still emerging, area when it comes to protecting employees from impermissible sex discrimination. That area is discrimination against lactating mothers. The new bills require employers in the city, who have 15 or more employees, to create an appropriate place to nurse or express breast milk. The other bill requires those same employers to craft a written lactation policy and to provide that policy to all new hires. Lactating employees in New Jersey already have many of these protections. If you think that you’ve suffered discrimination at work due to your breastfeeding, or your employer has failed to accommodate your breastfeeding properly, reach out to a New Jersey employment attorney to discover more about what options you may have.

The New York City bill regarding a lactation space set out some very specific requirements designed to protect lactating employees’ privacy and to allow them to express breast milk in a reasonably safe and comfortable space. The bill says that the space for lactation must be someplace other than a bathroom, that it must be sanitary and that it must be “shielded from view and free from intrusion.”

The bill requires the space to have certain minimum accessories, such as an electrical outlet, a chair, a sink and a surface that can accommodate a breast pump. The bill doesn’t require employers to dedicate a space exclusively for lactation, but if a lactating employee is using the room, it cannot be used for other things while that employee is nursing or “pumping.”

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Recent events and recent reporting by some major media outlets have placed a New Jersey lawsuit and a New Jersey-based major corporation in the news. It has also put the issue of workplace pregnancy discrimination in New Jersey in the spotlight. Pregnancy discrimination on the job can take many different forms. Whatever the form, it is damaging (whether professionally, personally or both), inappropriate for a professional setting and should not be tolerated. Whether the discrimination you suffer is the result of malevolence or a misguided sense of “looking out for you” as a pregnant woman, it is wrong. If you’ve suffered pregnancy discrimination at work, contact a knowledgeable New Jersey discrimination attorney right away to find what legal options exist for you.

A few months ago, the New York Times reported on the prevalence of pregnancy discrimination among even the country’s largest employers. One of the workers interviewed within the article was a woman who worked as a sales representative for a major New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company. According to the rep, she was a highly successful and awarding winning member of the sales team when she became pregnant in 2010. Just weeks before the representative was scheduled to delivery her baby, the employer laid her off, allegedly as part of a “downsizing.” “On paper, I was the same professional that I was nine months earlier,” the woman told the Times. Her pregnancy “was the only thing that was different” she said.

After the lay-off, the rep eventually got a new job with the employer, but at lower pay and less potential for bonuses, according to the report. Based upon this adverse employment action, she decided to take legal action against the employer. She joined the lawsuit of another female sales rep who was already pursuing the pharmaceutical company in court. That representative, K.S., asserted in her complaint that a male co-worker informed her that she was “not going anywhere” with the company once she became pregnant. Allegedly, K.S., who had won multiple awards within the company, was demoted to the lowest sales rep tier after she returned from maternity leave.

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New Jersey law gives religious employers very broad latitude in the employment decisions they make. That broad latitude is required by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Based on those protections, you might think if you’ve been fired from a job at a religious place of employment that you have no recourse, right? Not necessarily. There are many circumstances where a religious employer may still run afoul of anti-discrimination laws and that violation may still entitle the discriminated employee to receive compensation. A knowledgeable New Jersey discrimination attorney can advise you on how best to pursue your case against a religious employer.

One recent example of this scenario was the Appellate Division ruling in the case of V.C., a teacher at a North Jersey Catholic school. The case, which received coverage from nj.com, involved a lay teacher who instructed toddlers. In January 2014, the teacher informed her principal that she was pregnant. At the time, the teacher was engaged but not yet married. Two weeks after the principal learned about the teacher’s pregnancy, the school fired the teacher.

V.C. sued for sex discrimination, but the trial court ruled against her and threw out her case.

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You 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.

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Unfortunately, pregnancy discrimination still goes on in this country, including in workplaces in New Jersey. Some varieties of pregnancy discrimination can be somewhat more obvious, like firing a woman because she’s pregnant or refusing to hire a candidate due to her pregnancy. Others, like demanding that a current employee take a leave of absence from work, due to her pregnancy, before she’s ready may be less so. However, in all three of these examples, the employer’s conduct may amount to impermissible pregnancy discrimination in New Jersey. If you think that your employer treated you unfairly as a result of your being pregnant, you may have a case and may be entitled to compensation. You should act without delay and reach out to a knowledgeable New Jersey pregnancy discrimination attorney about your situation.

The most fundamental thing to remember when it comes to pregnancy discrimination is that pregnant workers are entitled to the same treatment from their employers as non-pregnant workers are. Just as an employer is not entitled to demand that a worker take leave solely because that worker has a medical condition, an employer similarly cannot force an employee to begin taking leave strictly because she has notified the employer that she is pregnant.

New Jersey law says that a pregnant worker, just like any other worker, is entitled to remain on the job and reject a request that she take leave, as long as she remains capable of performing the essential functions of her job. That, in turn, means that the point in the pregnancy at which the employer can demand that the employee stop working and start using her leave will vary depending on the specific facts of that pregnancy and that job.

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In 2014, New Jersey enacted the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. That law expanded anti-discrimination protections for women who are pregnant, may become pregnant, or have a pregnancy-related medical condition. The law recognized that women who have recently added to their families or are seeking to add to their families are a particularly vulnerable group in the workplace when it comes to discrimination. The law’s protections include not just pregnancy but also pregnancy-related medical conditions. Thus, if you have been fired from your job because of a medical condition tied to pregnancy, you should reach out promptly to an experienced New Jersey pregnancy discrimination attorney, since you may have a discrimination case against your employer.

If you are familiar at all with the laws prohibiting discrimination based on pregnancy, you probably can identify certain types of employment actions that are wrongful. Certainly, proof of an employer’s firing a satisfactory employee almost immediately after she discloses her pregnancy will be suspicious. Evidence of an employer’s refusal to hire a woman because she disclosed that she was trying to become pregnant or was contemplating growing her family could also give that woman a possible discrimination case.

However, what about actions that are less blatant? For example, many women suffer varying degrees of medical problems that are inherently connected to their pregnancies. These might include severe and debilitating nausea, preeclampsia, and gestational diabetes during the pregnancy and post-partum depression after giving birth. There are also many women who experience “high-risk” pregnancies either because they are carrying multiple babies or because they have pre-existing medical issues that make their pregnancies more complicated than those of other women.

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The news, unfortunately, remains frequently populated by stories of women who suffer from workplace discrimination because of their pregnancies. Whether it is the personal assistant of a famous TV and radio political talk show host (who was fired on her first day back from maternity leave), the Pennsylvania bank employee fired because her employer believed (incorrectly) that she was not planning to return to work after giving birth, or the Georgia warehouse worker fired after her doctor gave her a note restricting her from lifting heavy loads, these stories of women facing harm to their employment situations due to their pregnancies take place too often. Fortunately, in New Jersey, the law has some strong safeguards to protect pregnant women from discrimination on the job. If you think that your pregnancy led your employer to take an adverse action against you at work, you should contact a knowledgeable New Jersey pregnancy discrimination attorney right away.

Pregnancy discrimination is prohibited under both federal and New Jersey laws, since both recognize discrimination against pregnant women as a form of sex discrimination. The federal ban applies to employers with 15 or more employees, while the New Jersey prohibition applies to employers of all sizes. In New Jersey, those anti-discrimination protections also extend to childbirth and “pregnancy-related medical conditions.”

Your employer cannot simply end your employment because your pregnancy has changed what you can and cannot do. Similar to a situation involving an employee with a disability, an employer must attempt to make a reasonable accommodation of the employee’s pregnancy-related limitations. These accommodations might include, for example, allowing extra bathroom breaks or help with certain physical labor.

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Pregnancy discrimination has been against the law in New Jersey for many years. Pregnant women are a protected class under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination. Additionally, federal law bans the practice of pregnancy discrimination too. The federal government enacted the Pregnancy Discrimination Act in 1978 to include pregnant women as a class under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Both state and federal laws consider pregnancy discrimination to be a form of sex discrimination. The prohibition against discrimination extends beyond just pregnancy, though, since it also applies to childbirth and “pregnancy-related medical conditions.” If you believe you have experienced this kind of harm related to pregnancy, it is important to contact a New Jersey pregnancy discrimination attorney promptly and discuss your options.

Thus, what exactly is pregnancy discrimination? Workplace pregnancy discrimination is any type of adverse employment action against an employee or job candidate based upon the fact that the woman is pregnant. An employer can be liable for pregnancy discrimination even if that employer did not actually know that the woman was pregnant, as long as it reasonably should have known that the employee (or candidate) was pregnant.

The kinds of missteps that an employer can perform that can lead to liability can include firing a pregnant worker or refusing to hire a candidate because she was pregnant. Additionally, an employer that refuses to hire a job candidate because the employer thinks that the employee might become pregnant is potentially liable for pregnancy discrimination as well. Along those lines, if you are a candidate for a job, and your potential employer questions you during the interview process about wanting children, planning to have children, or a desire to start or grow your family, you may have been a victim of illegal discrimination.

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New 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, nj.com 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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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.

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