On January 21, 2014, Governor Chris Christie signed into law an amendment to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“NJLAD”), N.J.S.A. 10:5-12, prohibiting employers who know or should know that an employee is pregnant or recovering from a pregnancy from discriminating against the employee in her terms and conditions of employment. The law is effective immediately.
Prior to the law’s enactment, pregnancy was not recognized as a protected class under the NJLAD unless complications arose from the employee’s pregnancy such that it could be classified as a disability within the meaning of the NJLAD. The new law requires employers to treat women who are pregnant no less favorably than non-pregnant employees in their terms, conditions and privileges of employment regardless if they suffer from injuries relating to the pregnancy.
In addition to recognizing pregnancy as a class protected from workplace discrimination, the law also requires employers to provide the pregnant employee with reasonable accommodations relating to the pregnancy upon the advice of the employee’s physician. The law provides a non-exhaustive list of examples of accommodations that could be reasonable under certain circumstances including bathroom breaks, breaks for increased water intake, periodic rest, assistance with manual labor, job restructuring or modifying work schedules, and temporary transfer to less hazardous or strenuous jobs. Employers must grant the employee’s request for a pregnancy accommodation unless to do so would cause an undue burden on the employer’s operations.
Employers should modify their existing policies to comply with the new law. If you have any questions about these requirements or for further information, please contact us!