The New Jersey Legislature has overwhemingly passed an amendment to the Law Against Discrimination that would “prohibit workplace discrimination against women affected by pregnancy, defined as pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, including recovery from childbirth.” The bill now goes to Governor Christie for his consideration.
This link is to the version of the bill recently passed by the Assembly. The Senate passed an identical bill two months ago.
Things That Will Affect Business: If signed into law, pregnant employees will have to be provided with certain accommodations, including more frequent water and bathroom breaks, as well as assignments to lighter duty. Interestingly, the Statement to the bill says that it is intended to apply to employers who “know or should know” that an employee is pregnant. There may well be some interesting cases in the future about when an employer “should know” about a pregnancy. The question may well arise of how proactive an employer is allowed to be – or is required to be – in learning whether an employee is pregnant.
One provision tempers the otherwise complete ban on pregnancy discrimination. That is where the employer can establish an “undue hardship” to the business from a requested accommodation.
We may have more thoughts on this once the Governor signs the bill or sends it back with comments.