Pregnant women in New Jersey may develop conditions that make performing their jobs more difficult. However, pregnancy is not considered to be a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA is a federal law that prohibits disability discrimination in the workplace. However, workplace discrimination based on pregnancy is also illegal. Employers are prohibited from discriminating against pregnant workers based on their pregnancies or related conditions. They are also required to treat pregnant workers in the same way that other workers who suffer temporary disabilities are treated when pregnant workers develop pregnancy-related conditions that prevent them from working. The employment lawyers at Swartz Swidler can help you to understand your rights if you believe that you have been the victim of illegal pregnancy discrimination.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed by Congress and enacted in 1978. This federal law amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to explicitly include pregnancy discrimination as a type of prohibited sex discrimination. Under the PDA, employers may not discriminate against employees or applicants based on pregnancy, pregnancy-related conditions, or childbirth. Employers are prohibited from refusing to hire applicants because they are pregnant or force workers to take leave before giving birth when they are able to continue working. They also cannot choose pregnant workers for layoffs simply because of their pregnancies or take other adverse job actions based on a belief that pregnant workers will decide not to return to work after giving birth.
Private employers that have 15 or more employees are covered by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. State, local, and federal government agencies are also required to comply with the law.
New Jersey Law Against Discrimination
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination also prohibits discrimination against workers based on their pregnancies, childbirth, or related medical conditions. This law offers broader protections to pregnant workers than the PDA. It covers all employers in New Jersey, including companies with fewer than 15 employees. This means that if you are discriminated against because of your pregnancy while working for a small employer, you may have legal rights under the NJLAD even if you don’t under the federal PDA.
When pregnancy is temporarily disabling
In some cases, a pregnant worker will be unable to work temporarily because of developing pregnancy-related conditions. For example, a doctor might prescribe bed rest or a reduced schedule when a pregnant woman develops hypertension. When women are temporarily unable to work because of conditions related to their pregnancies, their employers are required to treat them in the same way that other employees are treated when they are temporarily disabled. For example, if an employer offers disability leave, temporary modifications, or unpaid leave to workers who suffer heart attacks, they must also offer those same types of things to pregnant workers who are temporarily unable to work.
Employers must also apply their policies concerning seniority, accruing benefits, pay increases, and others the same way to workers who are on leave because of childbirth or pregnancy as they do for employees who are on leave for other temporary conditions. When a pregnant worker has to take leave because of childbirth, a pregnancy-related medical condition, or pregnancy, her job must be kept open for the same period as the job of an employee who takes leave for a temporary disability or illness. Employers may also have to provide leave to pregnant workers when they are covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act or similar state laws.
Leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act
Eligible pregnant workers who work for employers that are covered by the FMLA may be entitled to take leave because of their pregnancies or childbirth. Qualifying employees are allowed to take up to 12 weeks off from work to care for their serious medical conditions. Under the law, pregnancy is considered to be a qualifying condition.
Covered employers include those that have a minimum of 50 workers who work within 75 miles of each other. Eligible employees are workers who have worked for covered employers for at least one year before the date of their requested leave and have worked at least 1,250 hours during that time. If you are eligible to take FMLA leave, you can take unpaid leave from your job if you are incapacitated because of your pregnancy. You can also take intermittent leave to attend doctors’ appointments during your pregnancy. Finally, pregnant workers who work for covered employers can take leave following childbirth in a single block if they want.
New Jersey Family Leave Act
The New Jersey Family Leave Act does not allow workers to take time off from work to care for their own medical conditions. However, it does allow workers to take time off from work to bond with a new child. The state expanded the amount of leave that workers can take in a year to 12 weeks. Previously, workers could take 12 weeks over a 24-month period. Workers who qualify may also receive temporary disability benefits through the state’s temporary disability insurance program. Qualifying workers must have earned at least $200 per week during 20 base weeks or $10,000 during the base period. Pregnant workers can receive temporary disability benefits of up to 85% of their regular incomes.
Get help from the employment discrimination attorneys at Swartz Swidler
If your employer denied your leave request or otherwise discriminated against you because of your pregnancy, you should talk to an experienced employment discrimination lawyer at Swartz Swidler. We can review what happened and explain whether it appears that your employer violated your rights. If your employer has engaged in unlawful discrimination because of your pregnancy, we can work to hold your employer accountable for its wrongful actions and recover compensation for your losses. To learn more about your case and the legal remedies that might be available, call us today at (856) 685-7420 to request a free evaluation of your claim.