“Pregnancy” Becomes a Protected Class Under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination

Last week, Governor Christie of New Jersey signed the “Pregnancy Bill,” which amends New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination, N.J.S.A. 10:5-12 (“NJLAD”), to provide that it shall be “an unlawful employment practice” or “an unlawful discrimination” to consider pregnancy in making an employment determination.  Pregnancy is now one of many protected classes under NJLAD, which also includes race, national origin, age, marital status, sexual orientation, and disability, among others. 

The amended law broadly defines pregnancy as “pregnancy, childbirth, or medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.”  Employers are required to grant reasonable accommodations for affected employees who make such requests with the advice of a physician, and employers cannot penalize an employee for requesting an accommodation or taking time off if the requested accommodation is not feasible. 

Penalties for violating NJLAD include payment of attorneys’ fees and a statutory penalty.  As such, employers should consult counsel to ensure compliance with the amended NJLAD and in order to properly respond to employees’ requests under the new provision.

As the law continues to evolve on these matters, please note that this article is current as of date and time of publication and may not reflect subsequent developments. The content and interpretation of the issues addressed herein is subject to change. Cole Schotz P.C. disclaims any and all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this publication to the fullest extent permitted by law. This is for general informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Do not act or refrain from acting upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining legal, financial and tax advice. For further information, please do not hesitate to reach out to your firm contact or to any of the attorneys listed in this publication.

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