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New Jersey Enacts the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

Today Your Legal Corner will provide information on "New Jersey Pregnant Workers Fairness Act."

Christmas, according to Christian doctrine, commemorates the birth of Christ. It has also been said that on Christmas, Mary, as the Mother of Christ gave birth in a manger, creating the beginnings of the Holy Family.

STATE: PREGNANT WORKERS FAIRNESS ACT

This year, New Jersey enacted the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (NJPWFA) to protect women working outside the home who are beginning a
family. Specifically, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations to workers who are pregnant; have recently gone though childbirth; have medical conditions due to or recovering from childbirth; or who through their doctor’s orders require certain modifications in the workplace.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act provides examples of accommodations that should be provided to employees under the law. The statute includes permitting increased bathroom breaks; drinking water while working; periodic rest; help with manual labor; temporary job transfers to less stressful work to name a few.

FEDERAL: PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION ACT

The Federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to include discrimination on the basis of sex, explicitly encompassing pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.

Current Federal and State law encourages pregnant workers to remain on the job, should they choose to do so. Yet, traditionally, employers frowned on this practice preferring that women take an unpaid leave of absence or terminate their positions altogether.

LEGAL APPLICATION

While the laws as written are now gaining favor for working pregnant women, court rulings so far have been slow to follow. According to the Women's Law Project Blog, pregnancy discrimination disproportionately affects low-income women working jobs with physical demands. Recent examples of this type of pregnancy discrimination include: a woman who was fired for carrying a water bottle at work, and another woman who was fired after her employer refused to excuse her from moving heavy objects. Both of these women went to court to fight being fired and both lost.

At this time in the case of Young v. United Parcel Services, the US Supreme Court is hearing oral argument to determine if UPS violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, when Young, a delivery driver requested a temporary shift in duties due to her pregnancy and UPS refused. This is a case to watch.

If you are starting a family, consider employment challenges first. Alternatively, if you are pregnant and working, keep a journal of your job requests and make sure all of those requests are in writing directly from the doctor. Keeping an employment journal may help when faced with legal workplace difficulties. Seek out an employment attorney for legal questions.

Remember, retaining pregnant employees is not all one sided, as most employers will benefit too. Statistics support keeping a pregnant employee is more cost efficient than training someone new. Additionally, retaining a pregnant employee demonstrates work place loyalty, which is also a profitable attribute to have within a business family!

Till next week, God bless, keep smiling and remember who's in Your Legal Corner when YLC will discuss "Domestic Violence Safety Plan."

Victoria M. Dalton is an Attorney Of Counsel with the well-respected Law Offices of Hoffman DiMuzio.

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Your Legal Corner was created to provide educational articles about the law and is not legal advice! Always consult with an attorney to address your legal needs!

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