Articles Posted in Pregnancy Discrimination

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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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Starting or growing your family through a pregnancy should be an exciting and gratifying experience. The same should be true about pursuing your chosen career field, before, during and after your pregnancy. Too many times, that doesn’t happen. An employer’s concerns about the wrong things regarding a pregnant employee – from the well-meaning (Can she handle the physical strain? Will her job duties impact her pregnancy negatively?) to the not-so-well-meaning (How much leave time is she going to take? How much is this going to cost the company?) lead to wrong decisions that harm the employee.

If you believe your employer treated you improperly and did so because of your pregnancy or pregnancy-related condition, you probably are angry, you may be scared, and you may feel uncertain about where to turn for answers. Start by reaching out to a knowledgeable New Jersey employment attorney with experience handling pregnancy discrimination cases.

B.M. was a woman facing this type of situation at work. When this blog last covered B.M.’s case in 2017, the EEOC had just filed a federal civil action in the District of New Jersey against B.M.’s employer. This March, the EEOC announced that it and the employer had worked out a settlement, which included a cash payment to B.M. for the harm she suffered.

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The situation of pregnant women or new mothers suffering discrimination at work as a result of their pregnancies is, unfortunately, an all-too-common scenario, both inside and outside New Jersey. An employer decides that an employee’s pregnancy has rendered her insufficiently productive when it comes to growing the employer’s bottom line, and so it seeks out an excuse to fire her.

Fortunately, both federal and New Jersey laws prohibit employers from taking adverse employment actions against pregnant (or new mother) employees because of their pregnancies or conditions related to their pregnancies. This can include a wide array of things, and the possibility of discrimination doesn’t end with the birth of the baby. An employer can be liable for pregnancy discrimination if it engages in illegal discrimination against an employee based upon her status as a breastfeeding mother, as an example. If you think you’ve been harmed in this kind of way at your job, fight back by reaching out to an experienced New Jersey employment attorney about your case.

Once you’ve decided to pursue your pregnancy discrimination case, the timing of events, and proof of that timing, can go a long way toward making your case and entitling you to a positive outcome. The case of a woman named K.J., reported by Business Insider, was an example. K.J. had started in the Monroe Township office of her employer, an insurer, in 2006 as a field service coordinator. In 2008, the employer promoted her to an operations manager position. In 2012, K.J. was promoted again, rising to become Regional Executive Director, according to the report.

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Modern technology can be both a great help and a hindrance sometimes. One way in which it is potentially beneficial is by providing a means for recording things in a moment’s notice, which may be extremely helpful if a situation evolves into a lawsuit. In an auto accident, you may use your device to record the accident scene, which may help your personal injury attorney later. In an employment dispute, your smartphone may help you record conversations that will later be key proof that you were fired, not for some legitimate reason, but due to illegal discrimination. Whatever amount and type of evidence you may have recorded, a skilled New Jersey employment attorney can help you take the proof and use it to your maximum benefit.

An example of modern technology in action was the case of T.S., an activity aide at a nursing home in South Jersey. According to the Attorney General’s Division on Civil Rights, T.S.’s employment transpired like this: She started her activity aide job in July 2017. On her second day at work, the aide told her employer that she was pregnant. Her supervisor allegedly told her that day that “it would be a ‘liability’” for her to stay and that she should go home, nj.com reported.

According to T.S., she then contacted the employee who gave her hours for the first two days. That employee allegedly told her not to return to work and that she’d been terminated as a result of her pregnancy.

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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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