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Does your employer make accommodations for pregnant workers?

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, a federal law enacted to protect pregnant women in the workplace, does not address all employment issues that pregnant women could face. Court decisions are still split on the extent to which employers must accommodate pregnant workers.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act also does not apply to every type of employer, such as companies with fewer than 15 employees. The exclusion of small companies leaves many pregnant women open to a risk of discrimination. However, some cities and states, including New Jersey, have taken measures to protect expecting mother from discrimination in the workplace.

New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination was amended in 2014 to require employers to make reasonable accommodations for expecting mothers. Employers in New Jersey must accommodate for pregnant women’s needs for the following:

  • A modified work schedule
  • Job restructuring
  • Increased water consumption
  • Restroom breaks
  • Assistance with lifting and other manual labor
  • Temporary job transfer to protect the worker from particularly hazardous or strenuous work

Cities in New Jersey may also pass their own workers’ rights laws that extend beyond federal and state minimums. For instance, Newark now requires companies with fewer than 10 employees to offer three paid sick-leave days. Companies with 10 or more employees must offer five paid sick-leave days.

Discrimination in the workplace takes a variety of forms. With that in mind, pregnant workers should understand how local, state and federal laws relate to possible discrimination at work.

Employees who believe they have been subject to workplace discrimination have a right to seek redress through occupational and legal channels. Understanding your rights and the process for filing a complaint are the first steps toward addressing the situation.

Source: Huffington Post, "Top 5 Cities to Live in if You're Working and Pregnant," Tom Spiggle, April 23, 2014

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