Under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) and other federal statutes, including the US Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), an employer has a responsibility to prevent pregnancy discrimination and provide pregnant employees with reasonable accommodations, but what constitutes a “reasonable accommodation?”
With pregnancy discrimination being an unfortunate reality for countless women in the workplace, it’s important to know what your rights are and what you are entitled to, especially when it comes to reasonable accommodations.
What is a Reasonable Accommodation?
A reasonable accommodation is any adjustment made to a job, hiring process, or work environment that allows a qualified pregnant person (or person with a disability) to fulfill the essential functions of a given position.
Additionally, it is illegal for an employer to penalize an employee for requesting (or using) reasonable accommodations.
What Are Some Examples of Reasonable Accommodations?
As each person’s needs are different, there can be many different types of “reasonable” accommodations for pregnant employees. Some examples include:
- Improving workplace accessibility
- Providing additional equipment or products
- Granting additional privacy when needed
- Allowing for a flexible work schedule
- Providing direct help when requested
- Modifying a job’s tasks
- Allowing for extra or additional breaks
- Granting access to preferred parking
- Providing specialized aid or services
- Permitting service animals
- Granting temporary change of position
Remember: individual needs will vary, so do not treat the above as a comprehensive list of reasonable accommodations. You should request whatever accommodations you think you need.
Asking For Reasonable Accommodation During Pregnancy
According to guidance issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regarding the terms of pregnancy discrimination law under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees just as they would with employees who are disabled.
In order for a pregnant individual to receive any accommodations, they must first make their employers (or HR department) aware of their pregnancy. Once your employer is informed of the situation, you may submit your request(s) for reasonable accommodations.
What Counts as a “Reasonable” Accommodation?
“Reasonable” accommodations are requests that do not threaten the safety of other employees, or inflict undue hardships. Requests that do not fulfill these requirements can be denied without legal consequence, as long as the employer can adequately demonstrate why providing such requests would be “unreasonable.”
Because of this, you may want to sit down with your employer and have an open discussion about your needs and requests, with the dialogue hopefully paving the way to an effective, mutual solution that satisfies both parties.
Additionally, be aware that management has the right to request additional documentation or a doctor’s note in regards to any pregnancy-related limitations and requests.
Contact An Experienced Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer Today
There are laws in place at both a state and federal level to protect the rights of pregnant employees. If you have been denied reasonable accommodations during your pregnancy, or if you have experienced pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, we can help.
Contact McOmber McOmber & Luber to discuss your pregnancy discrimination case today. We offer free consultations to clients throughout New Jersey and have convenient offices in Red Bank, Marlton, and Newark.