Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt and Gordon Johnson barring workplace discrimination against pregnant women was approved by the Assembly Women and Children Committee on Monday.
“It’s no secret that pregnant women are vulnerable to discrimination in the workplace. We’ve seen reports that women who request an accommodation that will allow them to maintain a healthy pregnancy are being removed from their positions, placed on unpaid leave, or fired,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “This is about making sure that our laws reflect 21st century society where discrimination is not tolerated or condoned.”
The bill (A-4486) would prohibit workplace discrimination against women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, including recovery from childbirth.
The bill prohibits employers that know, or should know, that a woman is affected by pregnancy from treating the woman in a manner less favorable than other employees not affected by pregnancy but similar in their ability or inability to work.
“Women are entitled to work in an environment free of discrimination and harassment, particularly during times of pregnancy,” said Johnson (D-Bergen). “Employers who treat them otherwise should be held accountable.”
The bill also requires any employer of a woman affected by pregnancy to make available reasonable workplace accommodations, such as bathroom breaks, breaks for increased water intake, periodic rest, assistance with manual labor, job restructuring or modified work schedules, and temporary transfers to less strenuous or hazardous work, for pregnancy-related needs when requested by the employee based on the advice of her physician, unless the accommodation causes undue hardship to the business operations of the employer.
The bill also prohibits those accommodations, and any leave, for pregnant employees from being less favorable than accommodations or leave that the employer chooses to provide to non-pregnant employees similar in their ability or disability to work. It prohibits the employer from penalizing an employee in terms, conditions or privileges of employment for requesting or using the accommodations. The bill also stipulates that it is not to be construed as otherwise increasing or decreasing employee rights to paid or unpaid leave.
The bill also prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, in other areas covered by the state’s “Law Against Discrimination,” such as housing, public accommodations, and finance.
The measure was approved by the Assembly Women and Children Committee, which is chaired by Lampitt.