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Should Pregnancy Be Considered a Disability?

A recent paper by a University of Dayton law professor, Jeannette Cox, puts forth the idea that pregnant women should be covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), in order to protect them from discrimination in the workplace.

Because the ADA doesn’t recognize pregnancy as a disability, Cox argues, it leaves pregnant women vulnerable to employment discrimination on the job. Her studies found pregnant women at risk for losing their jobs when “reasonable adjustments” weren’t made for their condition—in one example, a retail worker was fired for needing to drink water during her shifts at work.

Because the ADA covers people with “minor temporary physical limitations comparable to pregnancy’s physical effects,” Cox believes that pregnancy fits under this umbrella. Disabled workers may forgo tasks that include heavy lifting, bending, or prolonged sitting or standing. Pregnant women do not have this protection, and some may end up being fired or quit because they cannot do the work.

Of course, Cox’s conclusions are only academic. At this time there are no plans to amend the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, her research does bring up interesting discussion around pregnancy and workplace discrimination.

Pregnancy discrimination is illegal. However, pregnancy discrimination in New Jersey can be difficult to prove. Generally, these claims involve upon circumstantial evidence rather than direct proof.

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Neil H. Deutsch
Senior Partner

About Neil H. Deutsch has been practicing law for over 35 years and is known as a skilled negotiator in employment and discrimination law. He believes in a bottom-line approach of risk analysis and cost effectiveness for his clients. "Case evaluation is something we take seriously," says Mr. Deutsch who seeks top net dollar for…

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Bruce L. Atkins
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About Bruce L. Atkins is regarded as one of New Jersey's premiere practitioners of employment and civil litigation. Mr. Atkins has also been included in the Thomson Reuters list of New Jersey Super Lawyers* in Employment Litigation since 2005. Mr. Atkins believes employees have rights that should be aggressively pursued when an employer has wrongfully dealt…

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Adam J. Kleinfeldt
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About Adam J. Kleinfeldt joined Deutsch Atkins, P.C. in March of 2015.  He primarily represents individuals in employment litigations such as discrimination, retaliation, and whistle blowing matters.  He has extensive experience in all phases of the litigation process. Adam has obtained significant results for some of his clients, including a $525,000 jury verdict in a…

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Robert J. Pantina
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About Robert J. Pantina joined the firm in 2018. Mr. Pantina received his B.A. from Rider University in 2008. He received his J.D. from the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University in 2017. While in law school, Mr. Pantina interned for the Hon. Bonnie J. Mizdol, Assignment Judge of the Superior Court of…

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Diane Englander Peyser
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About Diane Englander Peyser joined Deutsch Atkins, PC in September 2018 where she represents employees in wrongful termination, retaliation, harassment, and discrimination matters. Prior to joining Deutsch Atkins, PC, Diane represented clients in all aspects of employment law on behalf of employees involving unemployment appeals, claims of sexual harassment, LGBT discrimination, disability discrimination, FMLA, New…

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