What is Pregnancy Discrimination?
Pregnancy discrimination is a form of sex discrimination that includes treating a pregnant employee unfavorably. The employee experiences discrimination if her employer or fellow employees treat her negatively because of her pregnancy or a medical condition related to her pregnancy. (Learn more with our Comprehensive Guide to Pregnancy Discrimination.)
Is Pregnancy Discrimination Illegal?
Pregnancy Discrimination is illegal. Pregnant women have historically experienced significant discrimination in the workplace. As a federal response, Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) in 1978 and the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. This act protects pregnant employees from discrimination in the workplace. Under these laws, discrimination on the basis of pregnancy or childbirth constitutes unlawful sex discrimination. Therefore, employers may not discriminate against employees on the basis of pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions.
Additionally, the State of New Jersey has some of the strongest laws in the country to protect pregnant women from discrimination! For example, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) protects pregnant employees from pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. Under this law, employers must prevent discrimination and provide pregnant employees with reasonable accommodations. Although the federal law provides protection to all workers employed by companies with over 15 employees, the NJLAD applies to all employers within the state of New Jersey. The New Jersey Law provides even more protection for the state’s pregnant employees.
It is illegal to discriminate against pregnant women in the workplace. This includes any aspect of employment. An employer may not fire or demote a woman because she is pregnant. However, the NJLAD covers more than just hiring and firing. This also prevents employers from denying pregnant women a right to promotions, training, assignments, and benefits.
Examples of Pregnancy Discrimination
Examples of pregnancy discrimination include:
- Firing a pregnant employee or not hiring a pregnant applicant
An employer cannot fire an employee because the employee is pregnant. But, it is also illegal for the employer to fire the employee due to concerns for the pregnant woman’s health. For example, an employer cannot fire a pregnant woman because the job involves lifting heavy objects. It is up to the pregnant woman if she wants to or can continue working. Also, an employer cannot refuse to hire a pregnant woman because she is pregnant. An employer cannot use assumptions about the woman’s pregnancy as an excuse not to employ the individual.
- Harassing a pregnant employee.
Severe and pervasive comments about a woman’s pregnancy that create a hostile work environment for the woman constitute harassment.
- Not providing reasonable accommodations.
A pregnant employee with pregnancy-related impairments must receive the same accommodations as other employees with medical impairments. For example, if another employee with an injured leg receives accommodations until his leg heals, a pregnant employee must also receive reasonable accommodations.
If you are experiencing any of these unlawful actions, please know you are not alone. Your pregnancy should be a beautiful time for you and your family. You should not be worried about losing your job or facing discrimination.
Pregnancy Discrimination Attorneys at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Advocate on Behalf of Victims of Pregnancy Discrimination
Let us help you. At McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C., we are dedicated to fighting against any form of discrimination in the workplace. Our Pregnancy discrimination lawyers can help you. With offices in NJ, NY and PA, call or contact us online for a free consultation.