Pregnancy discrimination is unlawful at both the state and federal levels. All workers are federally protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (CRA), which makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate against employees and applicants on the basis of gender, race, disability, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, and in some states, gender identity. The CRA was later amended to include the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), prohibiting pregnancy-related sex or gender discrimination. Discrimination regulations apply to each of the following:
- Hiring, firing, and layoffs.
- Job assignments.
- Benefits and fringe benefits.
- All other terms or conditions of employment.
Employers are forbidden to discriminate against pregnant employees on the basis of the pregnancy, and they must provide the same health benefits, promotion opportunity, salary increases, sick and vacation leaves, and reasonable accommodations as non-pregnant employees. Employers are not permitted to refuse to hire, promote, or fire a pregnant employee due to a pregnancy-related condition and must allow her to continue working if she is willing and able to do so. Employers cannot forbid pregnant employees from performing work duties simply because of the pregnancy.
Under both state and federal laws, your employer must provide accommodations to allow you to safely continue performing your job duties while pregnant, or provide alternative light-duty assignments instead.
Each state must adhere to the federal CRA regulations but can impose additional state-level discrimination laws as well. In New Jersey, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) further protects pregnant workers against harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.
The statute also details reasonable accommodations employers must provide for pregnant workers, such as:
- Flexible hours.
- Remote work.
- Facility modification unless doing so causes the employer undue hardship.
- Post-pregnancy time off to care for a newborn.
Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), both the mother and the father can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth and care of a child, either before or after the birth. The New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA) requires private employers with 30 or more employees worldwide and state and local public sector employers of any size to provide workers unpaid time off following the birth of a child, if eligible. When taken together, employees can utilize the FMLA for 12 weeks off prior to the birth and the NJLAD for 12 weeks off after the birth.
To be eligible in New Jersey, workers must have been employed for at least 12 previous and consecutive months and worked at least 1,000 hours during the period. Up to 12 weeks of leave can be taken within a 24-month period from the child’s birth.
Are There Accommodations for Breastfeeding?
In addition to accommodations for pregnancy, related conditions, and childbirth under NJLAD, employers must also provide accommodations for breastfeeding. In fact, New Jersey’s regulations provide breastfeeding mothers more protection than the federal CRA requirements.
Employers must allow breastfeeding employees reasonable break times during the day and provide a private location other than a restroom in order to express breastmilk unless doing so imposes an undue hardship on the employer’s operations. Factors of consideration for undue hardship include company size, number of employees, facilities, budget in relation to the cost of the accommodation, and the extent of effect it may have on essential job duties.
South Jersey Employment Lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC Represent Clients Experiencing Pregnancy Discrimination
It is unlawful at state and federal levels for employers to discriminate against pregnant employees. If you believe your employer is discriminating against you because of your pregnancy, our experienced South Jersey employment lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC can help you assert your rights and fight back against your employer. Call us at 856-235-7075 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Atlantic City and Mount Laurel, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Cherry Hill, Burlington County, and Camden County.