Pregnant woman working on laptop

5 Facts About Pregnancy Discrimination in New Jersey

By Tom McKinney
NJ Employment Attorney

It’s safe to say that today’s workforce is more diverse than ever. Despite this, pregnant women continue to face discrimination that threatens their advancement, wages, and job security. 

New Jersey and federal statutes protect pregnant women against discriminatory practices in the workplace. If you’ve been the victim of discrimination due to pregnancy, the law is on your side.

Below are five important facts to know about pregnancy discrimination.

1. Pregnancy Discrimination Is Defined by State and Federal Laws

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, discrimination against pregnancy is illegal. 

Additionally, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) further prohibits any type of bias-based harassment, discrimination, and retaliation against pregnant employees.

Any employer who engages in discriminatory practices due to pregnancies can face serious legal sanctions. 

2. Pregnancy Discrimination Has a Specific Meaning

What constitutes pregnancy discrimination in the workplace?

Pregnancy discrimination is when an employer fails to respect or otherwise consider your civil rights because you’re pregnant.

An employee can be found at fault for pregnancy discrimination if they engage in the following behaviors because you are pregnant: 

  • Decline to hire you
  • Refuse to promote you or offer a pay rise
  • Reduce your pay 
  • Take away work assignments or reduce hours 
  • Bully or harass you 
  • Terminate you

Any type of misconduct that occurs as a result of your pregnancy is considered discrimination and is against the law.

3. Pregnant Workers Are Owed Reasonable Accommodations

Under federal and New Jersey labor laws, “reasonable accommodation” is guaranteed for pregnant employees. 

Reasonable accommodations are provisions made by your employer to accommodate your pregnancy while at work. Every pregnancy is unique, and these accommodations can vary depending on your specific situation and the nature of your job.

Some examples of reasonable accommodations include:

  • Remote work options
  • Increased flexibility in hours and scheduling
  • Time off for medical appointments
  • Additional break allowances
  • Reassignment of physical work to other workers

When an employer fails to allow flexibility and allowances to pregnant employees, they face sanctions and legal consequences for not following the law. 

4. Pregnant Women Can Benefit from Leaves of Absence

New Jersey’s Family Leave Act allows pregnant women to take a leave of absence before and after childbirth. Additional protections are guaranteed by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. 

Though none of these statutes guarantees your employer will pay you for time off, they do allow you to come back to work without facing any repercussions. In New Jersey, some women may qualify for partial salary reimbursement under state provisions.

You must meet eligibility requirements to be granted a leave of absence, including minimum hours worked. In New Jersey, you’re allowed up to 12 weeks of leave within a 24-month period, but you must have worked at least 1,000 hours for your employer in the past year. 

5. It’s Possible to File a Claim for Pregnancy Discrimination 

If you’ve been a victim of pregnancy discrimination, you can seek compensation.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (DOC) will investigate your claim and resolve the matter through mediation proceedings alongside your employer.

You may also file a lawsuit against your employer in state court. In a discrimination lawsuit, you may sue for damages and losses, such as:

  • Lost wages and benefits
  • Suffering and distress
  • Wrongful termination
  • Attorneys’ fees

Consulting with an employment law attorney will be important if you choose to file a formal discrimination charge against your employer. 

New Jersey Pregnancy Discrimination Attorneys

NJ Employment Lawyers represent discrimination cases, including those related to pregnancy, all across New Jersey. 

Our team of passionate employment law attorneys will guide you in your claim and fight for your civil rights. Reach out to our team today.

About the Author
Tom McKinney is a skilled employment law attorney with New Jersey Employment Lawyers LLC. He has a track record of success in all areas of employment law, including sexual harassment, discrimination, harassment, wrongful discharge, whistleblower claims and hostile work environment claims. Besides litigation, Tom handles severance agreements and severance package reviews/negotiations for over 100 people each year. If you have any questions regarding this blog, contact Tom here.