Articles Posted in Pregnancy Discrimination

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“Reasonable.” The word can mean many different things. Google’s dictionary says that it means “fair and sensible,” “appropriate,” or something reflecting “sound judgment.” Here in New Jersey, the law requires employers to provide their pregnant workers with reasonable workplace accommodations. While the above descriptions reflect that “reasonable” is a subjective term, the law in this state sets some goalposts outside which employers may not stray when it comes to accommodating pregnant workers. If you’ve been discriminated against because of your pregnancy, that action may represent a violation of the law and may entitle you to recover compensation in court or through a settlement, so you should contact a New Jersey pregnancy discrimination lawyer right away to find out more about your options.

In the recent case of a North Jersey warehouse worker who was pregnant, the accommodation she received was essentially no accommodation at all. The woman worked in the warehouse as a “picker/packer.” In early April 2015, the woman gave her supervisor a note from her doctor that said that, as a result of the woman’s high-risk pregnancy, she needed frequent bathroom breaks and she needed to avoid lifting objects weighing more than 20 pounds.

The woman asserted that she never had to lift heavy items weighing more than 20 pounds in her regular job, but she gave the employer the note as a precautionary measure so that her employer knew she had that limitation and did not move her into a position that required heavy lifting. In fact, according to the worker, she continued in her regular job for a week after submitting the doctor’s note, and at no time during that week’s work did she ever have to lift anything weighing more than 20 pounds.

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A March 9 opinion handed down by the New Jersey Supreme Court not only benefitted a local police officer, but it was also a huge “plus” for any New Jersey worker who has been harmed at work because she was pregnant. Specifically, the decision firmly established pregnant workers’ right to pursue a Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) claim based on “unequal” or “unfavorable” treatment. Now more than ever before, any New Jersey worker who is pregnant and suffers adverse treatment because of that pregnancy should feel empowered and should not hesitate to contact an experienced New Jersey employment attorney about taking legal action.

The high court’s ruling was such a resounding victory for the discriminated employee that Anjali Mehrotra, president of the National Organization for Women of New Jersey, hailed it as “an affirmation of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act” itself, according to the Asbury Park Press.

The case involved a pregnant patrol officer with a township police department who, in late 2014, informed her supervisors that she was pregnant with her second child and that her doctor had advised that she cease patrol work. The employer granted the light-duty accommodation request but, consistent with the department’s “Maternity Standard Operating Procedure,” required the officer to use up all her accumulated paid leave time before starting her light-duty assignment.

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The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination’s employment discrimination protections for breastfeeding mothers are among some of the stronger ones in the country. A group within the University of California, Hastings College of Law placed New Jersey (along with New York) in a group of 12 states boasting the “most proactive laws” when it comes to protecting breastfeeding mothers in the workplace. Unfortunately, even with these laws on the books, discrimination against working women who are also breastfeeding mothers occurs far more often than it should. If you are a working mom and your employer isn’t giving you a reasonable accommodation for nursing or pumping, or has taken adverse action against you because of these activities, then that employer may be in violation of the law and you may be entitled to significant compensation. Contact an experienced New Jersey employment discrimination attorney to find out more.

A recent report from Patch shows an alleged example of pregnancy discrimination that is all too typical. According to an action taken by the Division on Civil Rights, the harmed employee was a new mom who worked for the Burlington location of a chain of discount vision service and eyewear stores.

Allegedly, after the new mother returned from her approved maternity leave, her employer switched her from full-time hours to part-time. This, of course, has a particularly harmful effect on many employees (including this mom) because the difference between full-time hours and part-time hours often means the difference between being eligible for healthcare benefits for you and your family, and being ineligible.

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Here in New Jersey, there are roughly 250 Catholic schools across the state, employing many thousands of teachers and other education professionals. Because these schools are not just educational institutions but also religious institutions, the First Amendment gives them greater latitude when it comes to employment decisions like hiring, firing, etc. The law does not, however, give them carte blanche to discriminate whenever and however they see fit. If you’re been fired from your job with a religious school because you allegedly violated a sexual orientation or sex-related “morality” requirement, it may be that, even with the First Amendment’s religious freedom protections, your employer has committed illegal discrimination that can entitle you to receive compensation. Reach out to an experienced New Jersey employment discrimination attorney to find out more.

Two of the more common scenarios in which these issues of law come up involve either an unmarried pregnant employee, or a gay or lesbian employee who gets married. V.C. was an example of the former.

V.C., who worked at a Catholic school in Union County, started out a teacher for toddlers and later moved to a position teaching art. In January 2014, she told her principal she was pregnant. The principal fired V.C., who was not married at the time, just a few weeks later.

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Transgender people are one group that experiences a very high degree of discrimination at work. A 2015 report revealed that 27% have been denied a promotion, not been hired or been fired just in the preceding year. Fortunately, here in New Jersey, the law has strong protections against workplace discrimination based on gender identity and/or expression so, if you’ve lost a job, lost a promotion, been denied employment or otherwise been harmed in the workplace because you are trans, you should contact a New Jersey employment attorney promptly.

For some trans people, the potential for discrimination is even greater than most other trans individuals. S.S., a process assistant at Amazon’s South Corporate Center in Ewing, was one of those people. S.S. was a trans man and, as of June 2019, also was pregnant, according to a nj.com report.

Being trans and being pregnant can be an especially difficult and even dangerous time for some workers. S.S. had disclosed his pregnancy to his employer, but those whom he told did not keep it confidential, according to his lawsuit. Shortly thereafter, S.S. allegedly began experiencing harassment. A co-worker allegedly questioned S.S.’s use of the men’s restroom, stating “Aren’t you pregnant?” Managers allegedly began criticizing his work more and, when he complained about the harassment, human resources allegedly placed him on leave, according to the report.

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As the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office clearly stated in a recent press release, “No parent should be forced to choose between their job and caring for or breastfeeding their child… New Jersey law protects a parent’s right to take leave to care for a newborn child and to return to the same position after leave. It also protects a parent’s right to breastfeed a child.” As an expectant parent, you know that those first weeks and months are something that you can never experience again with that child, and that the bonding that takes place during those early months is vitally important to your child. When you suffer workplace harm because you took leave following your delivery, or because you’re breastfeeding your baby, that’s against the law. Take action by contacting an experienced New Jersey employment attorney right away.

One way you can help yourself when you are expecting a child is by knowing your rights. A recent case that was reported by the Hudson Reporter is a good illustration of how helpful knowing your rights when it comes to family leave can be.

Here in New Jersey, you are entitled to take up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period (if you’ve worked at least 1,250 hours during the last 12 months) under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA) gives you up to 12 weeks of leave in a 24-month period if you’ve worked at least 1,000 hours in the previous 12 months.

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In 2014, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act became law in New Jersey. That law amended the Law Against Discrimination to go further to combat pregnancy discrimination, and work to eradicate unequal treatment of pregnant women in the workplace (among other places.) The PWFA may be an important aid to you in winning a pregnancy discrimination case. If you have been the victim of pregnancy discrimination at work, an experienced New Jersey pregnancy discrimination attorney who is well-versed in the PWFA and other pregnancy discrimination laws can help.

One recent pregnancy discrimination case that did involve the PWFA was the lawsuit launched by K.D., a police officer. When K.D. found out she was pregnant with her second child, she promptly notified her supervisors that her doctor had advised that she be taken off patrol.

The police department granted the officer’s request for a light-duty assignment but, in accordance with department policy, K.D. could only begin working her light-duty assignment after she had first used up every single hour of vacation, holiday and personal leave time she had accumulated during her entire time on the force.

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Earlier this fall, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s relatively brief stint as a New Jersey educator became a “hot” topic in the news, especially in relation to the issue of pregnancy discrimination. According to Sen. Warren, her employment as a speech pathologist in Morris County ended in June 1971 when her principal told her she would not be returning in the fall. Warren was six months pregnant at the time.

One might like to think that we’ve moved past the point of employers thinking that, simply because a woman becomes pregnant, that her pregnancy makes her physically feeble, emotionally unstable or otherwise incapable of doing her job. Or that, just because a woman is “showing,” she should not be seen in a workplace. Unfortunately, in too many situations, you’d be wrong to think that. Fortunately, there are laws in New Jersey to protect workers harmed by pregnancy discrimination. If you’re been victimized by this kind of mistreatment, be sure to sure reach out to an experienced New Jersey pregnancy discrimination attorney without delay to discover what legal options may be available to you.

S.P. was a woman who allegedly faced this kind of harm at work. According S.P.’s court documents (Essex County Superior Court Law Division Docket No. L-296-19), a few weeks after she began working for a dermatological medical practice, she told her employer that she was pregnant.

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When you have been the victim of workplace discrimination and were constructively discharged in New Jersey, there are several things that you will need, in terms of evidence, in order to achieve a successful result. As one example, the law requires you to have done everything reasonable in your power to remain employed. If your employer has proof that seems to show you didn’t, you’re going to need sufficient proof to overcome that, or else you may not be able to get the compensation you need.

As with many cases, it comes down to having strong evidence that supports your position and effective proof that blunts what your employer is trying to assert. To make sure you have everything you need to prove the elements of your case, be sure one of the things you have is legal representation from a skilled New Jersey employment attorney.

C.L. was someone asserting a discrimination claim and a constructive discharge in New Jersey. During her first year as a medical resident, C.L. became pregnant. Late in her first year of residency, the resident miscarried and missed the final three months of that first year. Despite the absence, the program advanced C.L. to second-year resident status, including the corresponding raise in pay.

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Whether it is modern restaurant establishments like “Hooters” (and other similar chains) that rose to fame in the 1990s, or more vintage businesses like the Playboy Clubs of the 1960s, some businesses have offered visitors female employees dressed in tight and/or revealing uniforms for many decades.

Whether they are/were employing “Hooters Girls” or Playboy “Bunnies”, these kinds of employers are obviously seeking to create a certain atmosphere at their businesses. However, is there a point at which the rules imposed by this type of employer may constitute a form of illegal harassment or discrimination under New Jersey law? A recent ruling from the Appellate Division court indicates that the answer may be “yes.”

The recent case involved 21 women who worked as “Babes” at an Atlantic City casino and spa. At the casino, Babes, who worked as beverage servers, could be male or female. The program required all Babes to adhere to strict appearance standards. Male Babes were expected to have broad shoulders and a slim waist. Female Babes were required to maintain a “natural hourglass shape.”

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