New Jersey Bill Seeks To Expand Protections For Pregnant Employees

On November 18, 2013, a bill (S2995) seeking to expand employment protections for pregnant women passed in the Senate 38-0. Specifically, the bill would (1) amend the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination to add pregnancy (including childbirth recovery) to the list of protected classifications, (2) prohibit less favorable treatment of women based upon pregnancy, and (3) require employers to make reasonable accommodations for an employee’s pregnancy-related needs when requested by the employee upon advice of her doctor. Potential reasonable accommodations (subject to an employer’s undue hardship defense) would include bathroom breaks, breaks for increased water intake, periodic rest, assistance with manual labor, job restructuring or modified work schedules (e.g., light duty), and temporary transfers to less strenuous or hazardous work. A reasonable accommodation would not include time off from work. The bill would also prohibit employers from penalizing a pregnant employee for taking advantage of these workplace accommodations. The bill has been sent to the Assembly for consideration.

Note: This article was published in the November, 2013 issue of the New Jersey eAuthority.