When you are pregnant, you may not be able to perform the duties of your job like you could before. Being pregnant can limit your ability to perform physical activities like lifting or bending over. A pregnancy can also mean that you have to take extra time off work. But if you are pregnant, your employer cannot use these limitations as a reason to fire you or discriminate against you.
Both New Jersey law and federal law include protections for pregnant women. These protections make sure that women do not face discrimination due to their pregnancy. They include protections for:
- Hiring – If you are pregnant and looking for a new job, employers can’t use your pregnancy as a reason to not hire you.
- Firing – Just like hiring, an employer cannot consider your pregnancy as a reason to fire you. The law protects your job if your pregnancy limits your ability to do it.
- Maternity leave – Federal law allows you to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off for your pregnancy. This law is under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). New Jersey also has its own Family Leave Act (FLA). If you have to use your FMLA leave before your pregnancy, you can use up to 12 weeks of New Jersey FLA leave to bond with your child.
- Health insurance – If an employer offers you health insurance, that insurance must cover any costs associated with your pregnancy. The coverage should be similar to coverage for a short-term disability.
- Work accommodations – When you are pregnant, you may need extra breaks. Or you might not be able to do strenuous manual labor. Your employer must accommodate you for extra breaks or for reduced labor.
- Harassment – The law does not allow harassment against you because of your pregnancy or pregnancy-related medical condition. And if you report harassment, retaliation by your employer or co-workers because of the reporting is illegal.
These are just some of the protections you have under the law. If you feel that an employer fired you or discriminated against you because of your pregnancy, you should contact an attorney.
If you are pregnant or plan to have a child, federal and state law protect your job from pregnancy discrimination.