A recent decision by the New Jersey Supreme Court is good news for employees who are pregnant or who become pregnant while employed in the state. The decision bolsters the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) – an amendment to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination that protects pregnant and breastfeeding workers from discrimination in the workplace and mandates that employers provide them with reasonable accommodations.
In a case that made its way through the NJ court system, a pregnant police officer brought suit against her employer alleging that they violated the PWFA because their “light duty” policies for workers with other types of disabilities were more favorable than those for pregnant workers. In issuing its decision in favor of the pregnant police officer, the New Jersey Supreme Court affirmed that the PWFA provides protections and allows for remedies in three specific areas:
- Policies that provide “light duty” for pregnant and breastfeeding workers must be equal to policies that provide “light duty” for other disabled workers.
- Employers must provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant and breastfeeding workers without requiring the workers to prove that the accommodation would not cause an “undue burden” to the employer. Rather, the burden of proof is required of the employer. In other words, if an employer feels that accommodating a pregnant or breastfeeding worker would be too detrimental to their business, it is incumbent upon them to prove so.
- Any reasonable accommodation made by an employer for a pregnant or breastfeeding worker must not penalize the worker. The accommodation cannot create a more harsh, difficult, or hostile work environment for the worker.
If you are a pregnant or breastfeeding worker in New Jersey, you have the right under the law to be treated and accommodated fairly at your job. If you feel you’ve been discriminated against due to pregnancy or breastfeeding, or if you think your employer is in violation of the law under the PWFA as a part of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, we encourage you to set up a consultation with our firm. Please complete our on-line questionnaire and we will get back to you right away with next steps.