Have you been treated differently at work after you announced your pregnancy? Maybe your hours were cut, your boss subjected you to unfair discipline – or maybe you were even wrongfully terminated. Pregnancy discrimination is illegal under New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania state and federal laws. Once you make the decision to grow your family, learn your rights. Your employer cannot treat you unfavorably simply on the basis of your pregnancy. Your employer does not have the right to harass or discriminate against you – now is the time to fight back.
At the Arcè Law Group, our pregnancy discrimination attorneys protect the rights of working women across New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Our team of dedicated pregnancy discrimination lawyers are at the forefront of women’s pregnancy rights. We serve our New Jersey clients in Newark, Jersey City, Princeton, in addition to New York City and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.Federal Laws Protecting Pregnant Women in NJ-NY-PA
At the federal level, several laws protect pregnancy women, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Family and Medical Leave Act.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978 amended Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to prohibit sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
When making decisions in regards to hiring, termination, compensation, benefits, or other aspects of employment, an employer cannot factor in your pregnancy. These decisions should be based on your skills, performance history, and other work-related criteria. The PDA covers employers with 15 or more employees.
Additionally, harassing a woman because she is pregnant or nursing is unlawful.
Disability leave for pregnancy-related conditions
According to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), if a women becomes impaired due to a condition related to her pregnancy, she must be treated the same as any other disabled employee. Your employer may need to make special adjustments to your working conditions, such as:
- Offering you unpaid leave
- Offering you disability leave
- Providing light duty
- Giving you temporary assignments
Ask your New York, New Jersey or Philadelphia attorney if your pregnancy-related condition qualifies as a disability under the ADA. If not, your temporary disability rights may still be protected under the PDA. If you are being denied reasonable accommodations, you may have a claim for pregnancy discrimination in New Jersey, New York, or Pennsylvania.
Pregnancy leave and maternity leave
Under the PDA, an employer that allows temporarily disabled employees to take disability leave or leave without pay, must allow an employee who is temporarily disabled due to pregnancy to do the same.
Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, you may be allowed to take up to twelve weeks of unpaid (or paid, if you have accrued such time) maternity leave if you have worked for your employer for at least twelve months.
The rights of nursing mothers
A provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act, enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor, you may be allowed to express milk at work if you are nursing after you return to work.
As of January 2014, pregnancy is officially listed as a protected class under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD). What does this mean for you as a pregnant woman?
- Your employer must make reasonable accommodations if you are affected by pregnancy based on the advice of your physician, even if your pregnancy is considered “normal”
- Your employer cannot penalize you for requesting special accommodations
- Your employer cannot treat you less favorably simply because you are pregnant
- Your employer cannot discriminate against you in regards to the conditions of your employment because you are pregnant
Reasonable accommodations under the LAD
The LAD lists the following accommodations that may be needed by a pregnant employee:
- Bathroom breaks.
- Breaks for increased water intake.
- Periodic rest.
- Assistance with manual labor.
- Job restructuring or modified work schedules.
- Temporary transfers to less strenuous or hazardous work.
If providing accommodations presents “undue hardship” on an employer, the company is not required to offer some adjustments to a pregnant woman’s working conditions. To determine undue hardship, the courts factor in certain criteria such as the size of the business, their budget, and their overall operations.What can I do if I Have Experienced Pregnancy Discrimination in NY-NJ-PA?
To prove you have been discriminated against, you must show that you have been treated less favorably than non-pregnant workers in similar positions. Your first step is to speak with a qualified, skill pregnancy discrimination attorney in New Jersey. Explain your case to your lawyer and present him or her with any evidence you may have. Next, your lawyer advises you on how to proceed with your case.
Your pregnancy discrimination attorney may suggest taking one of these three legal routes.
Filing a charge with the EEOC
In most cases, you have 180 days from the act of discrimination to file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You might take your case to the EEOC if your employer violated federal law. An EEOC charge means taking an administrative track outside of the court system. An EEOC official will investigate the charge, and you and your employer (or former employer) has the opportunity to resolve the charge through mediation.
If your charge from the EEOC is unsuccessful, your attorney might decide to take the case to federal court.
Filing a charge with the Division on Civil Rights
Another administrative option is filing a charge with the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (DCR). You also have 180 days from the act of alleged discrimination to file a charge with the DCR. A DCR employee reviews your case and determines if it falls under the LAD or the New Jersey Family Leave Act (FLA). The DCR launches and investigation and both parties have the option of settling via mediation, or you might have a hearing in front of the Office of Administrative Law.
Filing a lawsuit with the New Jersey, New York or Pennsylvania courts
If filing an administrative charge proves unsuccessful or your New Jersey, New York City or Philadelphia lawyer decides to take your pregnancy discrimination case to the courthouse, you can file a lawsuit with the New Jersey, New York City or Philadelphia Superior Court system. Most cases settle outside of the courtroom, though this route may require a jury trial. Through a lawsuit, you may be entitled to compensation for lost wages, pain and humiliation, attorneys’ fees, and punitive damages.
For more information about pregnancy discrimination laws in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, arrange a free initial consultation with an employment lawyer at the Arcè Law Group. We are available by phone at 212.248.0120 or by filling out a contact form online. Do not hesitate. Act today.