Late in January, NJ Gov. Chris Christie (R) signed a bill which extends and strengthens protection for pregnant workers from discrimination. It also requires that employers make adequate accommodations to allow their pregnant employees to continue to work.
Some of these accommodations include allowing more bathroom breaks, allowing the pregnant woman to carry a bottle of water, allowing some rest breaks, rearranging the schedule and a restructuring of job duties to prevent her from heavy lifting.
The law covers women who have recently given birth, as well as pregnant women, and applies to employers, landlords, lenders and others. It also includes women who are recovering from child birth due to any pregnancy related illnesses or sicknesses.
Prior to this bill, which expanded the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, while pregnant women had protection from being fired, there were complaints about many injustices. Pregnant women were made to continue heavy lifting even into their third trimester; some were forced to take unpaid leaves of absence or have simply been forced out.
According to a report by the National Women’s Law Center, pregnant women still face work discrimination across the country, which in many cases can lead to financial troubles or safety issues for the mother and/or child Here were some key facts pointed out in the study:
- Today, nearly 66 percent of first-time mothers work while they’re pregnant, compared to less than 50 percent during the 1960s.
- Almost 90 percent of those mothers worked until the final two months of their pregnancy, with 80 percent working into the final month.
- Pregnant workers who are denied basic accommodations can risk preterm birth, a miscarriage, low-birth weight, pre-eclampsia and other complications.
In enacting the bill, New Jersey became the eighth state to pass such a bill since 2000, while cities like New York City and Philadelphia have also enacted similar bills.
If you live or work in New Jersey and feel you have faced any discrimination at work for any reason at all, you don’t have to take it just to hold onto your paycheck. Contact the employment law attorneys at Team Law to discuss your case during a free initial, no -risk consultation.