On January 21, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed into law an amendment to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD). With the amendment, which took effect immediately, the LAD now expressly includes pregnancy and childbirth as specifically enumerated protected categories.
The amendment prohibits employers from treating women affected by pregnancy any less favorably than employees who are not affected by pregnancy, provided the employees are similar in their ability or inability to work. The statute defines pregnancy to include childbirth, medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth, and recovery from childbirth.
Under the amended LAD, employers are now required to provide covered employees reasonable accommodations for pregnancy-related needs. This obligation is triggered when a pregnant employee or an employee with a medical condition relating to pregnancy or childbirth requests an accommodation on the advice of her physician. Reasonable accommodations may include 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. Notably, the amendment specifies that it is not meant to increase or decrease any employee's entitlement to paid or unpaid leave. Thus, to the extent employers provide paid or unpaid leave to employees for other purposes, they must make such leave available to employees affected by pregnancy. However, there is no additional leave requirement for pregnant employees.
Employers must provide such requested accommodations unless they can demonstrate that doing so would pose an undue hardship on their business operations. Whether an accommodation would be an undue hardship depends on the overall size of the employer's business, the type of operations, the nature and cost of the accommodation needed, and the extent to which the accommodation would require eliminating a pregnant employee's essential job functions.
Employers are also prohibited from penalizing covered employees who make use of accommodations.
This new amendment to the LAD follows a recent amendment to the New York City Human Rights Law that will provide similar protections to women affected by pregnancy when it goes into effect on January 30. The New York City law goes somewhat further than the LAD amendment in that it requires employers to make disability leave available to employees for childbirth-related reasons and prohibits employers from requiring pregnant employees to take unpaid leaves in lieu of providing other accommodations. Both the New York City and New Jersey laws are part of a trend of recent legislation aimed at expanding the protections for and accommodations available to pregnant women in the workplace.
Day Pitney Alert
Day Pitney Alert
Doug Gillette and Bill Goddard will be featured panelists during the UConn School of Law's Symposium on Municipal Distress on Friday, September 15.
Day Pitney partner Francine Esposito will speak at the upcoming webinar "Workplace Leave Laws: Strategies to Navigate the Changing Landscape in the U.S." Taking place on Sept. 14 at 2 p.m., the webinar is the first in a series of webinars hosted by the Employment Law Alliance (ELA) on workplace leave laws around the globe.
Patrick McCarthy and Christopher Stracco spoke about Project Labor Agreements on Friday, February 10, at the New Jersey Institute of Continuing Legal Education's Annual 2017 Redevelopment Law Institute at the Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel in Iselin, New Jersey.
Day Pitney associate Arianna Mouré was featured in an article, "Practicing Law and Contributing to the Greater Good," published in the Fall/Winter 2018 edition of the Rutgers University School of Arts and Sciences Access Newsletter.
Rachel Gonzalez was mentioned in an article, "Unions set to begin voting on NJ Transit rail contract," in NJ.com. Gonzalez provided an explanation of the approval process concerning union agreements in connection with the NJ Transit rail unions voting on the proposed settlement to avert a strike.
Kate Coffey, Rachel Gonzalez and Peter Wolfson were mentioned in the "New Partners Yearbook 2016" in New Jersey Law Journal. This is the Law Journal's annual yearbook devoted to recognizing both newly promoted partners and newly hired lateral partners at law firms in New Jersey.
Patrick McCarthy was quoted in an article, “Former exec's conviction puts spotlight on safety for high-risk industries; Deadly mine explosion resulted in underwriting rethink by insurers,” in Business Insurance. McCarthy was quoted in connection with the significance of a case, in which Don Blankenship, the former CEO of Massey Energy Co., was acquitted of all felony charges, but convicted of a misdemeanor conspiracy charge for willfully violating U.S. mine health and safety standards that resulted in a 2010 explosion that killed 29 coal miners in West Virginia.
The Day Pitney alert, "Federal Contractors Must Provide Paid Sick Time in the Future," authored by Francine Esposito and Arielle B. Sepulveda was referenced in a Staffing Industry Analysts article, "New Bill Would 'Ban the Box' for Federal Contractors." In addition to the Fair Chance Act, the article discusses the executive order signed by President Obama that requires federal contractors to provide paid sick time leave. Esposito and Sepulveda noted that the requirement applies to all federal contracts awarded on or after January 1, 2017.