It’s 2014 and it’s hard to believe that pregnant women still face discrimination in the workplace. Many women can work through their pregnancies without changes in their jobs, but some women need temporary, often minor adjustments in their work duties or schedules to continue working safely during their pregnancy. Unfortunately, many times these women are being fired from their jobs, forced onto unpaid leave, or forced to quit when employers refuse to provide temporary accommodations for pregnant women to continue working without jeopardizing their health and the health of their pregnancy.
First day back to work in 2014 and New Jersey decided to do something about this. Monday, the New Jersey Assembly voted 77-1 (!) to pass a bill that bans pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, including by requiring employers to make the same sorts of accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions that they do for disabilities, allowing pregnant workers to continue to do their jobs and support their families. If signed into law, this means that pregnant workers in New Jersey who need temporary modifications in their jobs to continue working safely during pregnancy—like, a reprieve from heavy lifting, or the ability to sit on a stool while working a cash register—will be able to respect their doctor’s advice without losing their paycheck.
The bill unanimously passed the New Jersey Senate in November, so now the bill heads to Governor Christie’s desk. Governor Christie has until Tuesday to follow the lead of New Jersey legislators and ensure protection against pregnancy discrimination for the women in New Jersey.