Last week, Governor Christie of New Jersey signed the “Pregnancy Bill,” which amends New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination, N.J.S.A. 10:5-12 (“NJLAD”), to provide that it shall be “an unlawful employment practice” or “an unlawful discrimination” to consider pregnancy in making an employment determination. Pregnancy is now one of many protected classes under NJLAD, which also includes race, national origin, age, marital status, sexual orientation, and disability, among others.
The amended law broadly defines pregnancy as “pregnancy, childbirth, or medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.” Employers are required to grant reasonable accommodations for affected employees who make such requests with the advice of a physician, and employers cannot penalize an employee for requesting an accommodation or taking time off if the requested accommodation is not feasible.
Penalties for violating NJLAD include payment of attorneys’ fees and a statutory penalty. As such, employers should consult counsel to ensure compliance with the amended NJLAD and in order to properly respond to employees’ requests under the new provision.