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N.J. Senate Proposes Bill to Protect Pregnant Workers from Discrimination

Many female employees experience pregnancy discrimination in violation of legal protections that have existed for decades.  Although Congress enacted the Pregnancy Discrimination Act in 1978, many women continue to suffer from disparate treatment based on their pregnancy status. The Senate recently passed S.3565 referred to as the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. The purpose of the act is to ensure that employers provide reasonable accommodations to employees whose ability to engage in job duties is impaired by childbirth, pregnancy or other related medical issues.

Reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees in New Jersey

The proposed legislation imposes an obligation on employers analogous to that imposed by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) to make reasonable accommodations so that disabled employees can continue their employment unless it creates an undue hardship for the company.

Senator Bob Casey proposed the bill because of increased reports of employers failing to accommodate pregnant employees, which can have adverse effects on both the mother and unborn child. The Women’s Law Center (NWLC) has provided a litany of examples of women who have been wrongfully terminated or suffered other detrimental employment decisions following their employer’s failure to make reasonable adjustments to allow female employees to work during their pregnancy.

Current protections against pregnancy discrimination fall short

Specific examples of pregnancy discrimination are cited in the proposed bill. In one case, the expectant mother was terminated because she refused to move heavy boxes and climb ladders toward the last months of her pregnancy. Another female employee was fired because she carried a water bottle after being advised by her doctor to drink significant amounts of water throughout the day.

This legislation is particularly important because of the limited paid pregnancy leave available to women under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). While the FMLA guarantees twelve weeks of job protection, it is only available to employees of larger companies and does not provide paid leave (with the exception of accrued paid vacation time).  When women are forced from their jobs even though they can continue to be productive with reasonable accommodations, it can work enormous financial hardships on female employees and their families.

If you are pregnant and have questions about your rights, our dedicated Hackensack pregnancy discrimination attorneys are available to answer your questions and discuss your legal rights.

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Neil H. Deutsch

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 premier practitioners of employment and civil litigation. He has been selected to the New Jersey Super Lawyers prestigious list every year since 2005.  This honor, bestowed upon a recipient by the votes of his peers, is a powerful nod to the skill Mr. Atkins…

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Adam J. Kleinfeldt

About Adam J. Kleinfeldt joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, 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…

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Diane Englander Peyser

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

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Debra M. McGarvey

About Debra M. McGarvey joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in December 2019. She has extensive experience defending employees and employers in state and federal court in employment litigation matters. She has represented clients on various issues arising out of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA),…

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