Pregnancy Discrimination Claims

 

What is pregnancy discrimination and does New Jersey law cover it?

 

Pregnancy discrimination occurs when an employer treats a pregnant employee less favorably than employees with other temporary disabilities. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) prohibits this type of discrimination.

 

I think I am being impacted or treated differently because of my pregnancy? How do I prove it?

 

In order to show that your employer is discriminating against you because you are pregnant, you must prove that you are being treated differently than other non-pregnant employees in similar situations (i.e. others with temporary disabilities or in need of medical leave).

 

I just found out that I'm pregnant, should I tell my employer?

 

The decision to tell your employer is entirely up to you. Although you are not obligated to tell your employer about your pregnancy, in order to take family or medical leave you must give reasonable notice. You may also want to inform your employer in case you need any special accommodation.

 

Can my employer fire me because I may become pregnant?

 

Your employer cannot fire you because you may become pregnant. LAD prohibits this kind of discrimination.

 

Can I ask my employer to make accommodations for me on account of my pregnancy?

 

You can ask your employer to make the same kind of accommodations they would make for other employees in similar situations (i.e. others with temporary disabilities). Your employer, however, is under no obligation to make special accommodations for only pregnant women.

 

How do I prove that I need a special accommodation?

 

New Jersey law does not require any specific form of proof, however, a note from your doctor specifying the need for accommodations should be sufficient.

 

For what amount of time can I take leave because of pregnancy?

 

Both federal and state law require employers to provide eligible employees with twelve weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for certain family and medical reasons during a consecutive twelve (12) month period. In New Jersey you can take a total of twenty-four (24) weeks in a two-year period as long as you take your pregnancy leave first then your family leave. Also, your individual employer may adhere to their own medical leave policy that provides more time to employees with medical reasons, like pregnancy.

 

What happens to my job while I am on pregnancy leave?

 

You should be able to return to the position that you left or to an equivalent position with similar seniority, status, employment benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment.

 

Can my employer deny me pregnancy leave?

 

According to the New Jersey Family Leave Act you are entitled to twelve (12) weeks of leave during a twelve (12) month period. If your employer offers additional leave for other medical reasons, it must grant you equivalent time for pregnancy leave.

 

I've been missing a lot of work due to prenatal check-ups or pregnancy-related complications. Can my employer fire me for this?

 

You can be fired if the amount of work you have been missing exceeds the medical leave allowed by federal, state law, and/or your company's medical leave policy. However, if other temporarily disabled employees have been allowed extra time then you cannot be fired.

 

Is my employer required to pay me while I am on pregnancy leave?

 

Your employer is not required to pay you while you are on pregnancy leave. However, if you have accrued paid time off you can use this during your pregnancy leave. If you are temporarily disabled because of your pregnancy you may qualify for temporary disability benefits paid by the government or your company. For example, during your pregnancy your doctor may prescribe bed-rest and this would qualify as a temporary disability.

 

I'm pregnant but not showing yet and I have an upcoming interview, do I need to disclose the fact that I'm pregnant?

 

You do not need to disclose the fact that you are pregnant. LAD protects you from pregnancy discrimination during hiring.

 

Can an employer refuse to hire me because I may become pregnant?

 

No. New Jersey law prohibits employers from refusing to hire employees based on pregnancy or fertility.

 

Can my employer prevent me from working while I'm pregnant or require me to take a certain amount of leave?

 

Your employer cannot prevent you from working while you are pregnant. Your employer cannot force you to take mandatory leave.

 

Can my employer keep me from working in certain areas or doing certain tasks because of health and safety concerns?

 

No. The only time an employer could prevent you from working in a certain area is if they have a legitimate medical concern.

 

Can my employer move me to another position while I am pregnant so as not to offend clients or customers?

 

No. The possibility that you might offend customers is not a legal consideration.

 

Does my employer's health insurance have to cover the medical costs of my pregnancy?

 

If your employer provides a health plan and medical coverage for its employees, then pregnancy and birth related medical benefits should be covered like other medical conditions.

 

I just returned from maternity leave and need to take extra breaks in order to pump milk, but my supervisor won't allow me to take more than 2 breaks a day. Can I file a claim?

 

You may file a claim if your employer accommodates other similarly situated employees. However, if your employer has a policy of allowing no one more than two breaks a day, you may not have a strong claim.

 

Can my employer treat me differently because I am unmarried and pregnant?

 

No. Your employer cannot treat you differently because you are unmarried and pregnant. This would be illegal discrimination based on gender and marital status.

 

I was pregnant, but had a miscarriage or an abortion, and need time off to recover. Am I covered by the law?

 

You can take up to twelve weeks in a twelve-month period to deal with your own serious illness, which can include time off to recover under Federal and state law. Miscarriage or abortion must be treated the same as any other temporary disability in terms of medical leave and other benefits.

 

My employer's medical plan covers most health conditions, but excludes abortion and contraceptive devices and medication. Is this legal?

 

It is illegal for your employer to offer men and women different medical benefits. Employers must treat abortion identically to any other medical issue. If comparative options are available to male employees then these benefits must be available to female employees. For example, if males can get vasectomies then your medical plan should cover contraceptive devices.

 

What could my employer do to deny my allegations, and how do I respond to their denials?

Your employer can try to prove a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for its conduct. For example, they can say that you were fired for poor job-performance. You can respond by persuading the trier of fact (i.e. local division, judge, or jury) that your employer's reason was merely a pretext or cover-up for the discrimination.

 

Does it matter when the discrimination occurred?

 

Under the LAD, you must file a claim with the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights within one-hundred and eighty (180) days of the discrimination. If you wish to bypass the Division, and file with the New Jersey Superior Court, you must file within 2 years of the discrimination act. For more information on how to file a claim, href="../files/nj_file.php">click here

 

What options do I have if my employer has fewer than fifteen (15) employees?

 

While you are only protected under federal law if your employee has more than fifteen (15) employees, under the LAD, you are protected regardless of how many employees your employer has. So while you may not be able to file a federal claim, your claim in New Jersey is still valid.

 

If I prove my pregnancy discrimination claim, what kinds of remedies am I entitled to?

 

You will be entitled to equitable relief, which is relief intended to make you whole again. You may be able to recover remedies such as back pay to compensate you for lost earnings, front pay to compensate for a pay differential resulting from discrimination, injunctive relief to correct your employer's discriminatory practices, or reinstatement to any position that you lost as a result of discrimination.

 

 

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