As we previously reported here
, the New Jersey Senate recently introduced a bill to amend the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”) to include pregnancy and childbirth as protected categories. On November 7th, the New Jersey Senate Labor Committee amended and advanced the bill.
The bill would prohibit employers from treating women affected by pregnancy less favorably than employees not affected by pregnancy but similar in their ability or inability to work. If passed, the bill would require employers of women affected by pregnancy to make available reasonable accommodations for pregnancy-related needs when the employee, with the advice of her physician, requests accommodation. The bill would also prohibit employers from penalizing employees affected by pregnancy in the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment for using accommodations.
The Labor Committee’s amendments specify that accommodations required by the bill are limited to workplace accommodations, such as bathroom breaks, assistance with manual labor, and modified work schedules, but do not include paid or unpaid leave. The amendments thus remove the requirement that leave be provided in all cases where accommodations are not feasible.
The amendments also indicate that an employer would not be required to provide an accommodation if it can demonstrate that the accommodation would cause “undue hardship” on its business operations. The factors to be considered in determining whether an accommodation would cause an undue hardship are specifically set forth in the amendments and include 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 involve waiving an essential job requirement.
Finally, the Labor Committee’s amendments also prohibit accommodations or leave for pregnant employees from being less favorable than accommodations or leave for non-pregnant employees similar in their ability or inability to work, and state that the bill is not intended to otherwise increase or decrease employees’ rights under applicable law to paid or unpaid leave.
Check back here regularly as we will provide updates on the bill’s progression through the New Jersey legislature.