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Monday, May 9, 2022

NJ Pregnancy Attorney, Pregnancy Employment Discrimination Lawsuits Are on the Rise

Motherhood is foremost for the continuation of the species! Pregnant women should be protected and supported, not discriminated against! I am experienced and successful in representing pregnant employees, including non-tenured teachers whose contacts were not renewed, and succeeded in recovering money for them. If you believe you were the target of pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, you should contact this office today for a free consultation. I have successfully litigated pregnancy discrimination cases in both federal and state court. The Pregnant Women’s Fairness Act amended the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) to specifically include pregnancy as a designated protected class.

Despite Declining Birth Rates in the US, More Persons Are Filing Pregnancy Employment Discrimination Lawsuits

Despite declining birth rates in the US, more persons are filing pregnancy employment discrimination federal lawsuits according to statistics released by a government agency. In the five years from 2016 through 2020, the number of federal pregnancy discrimination lawsuits increased by an astounding 67%. Because of the decline in birth rates and the effects of the Covid pandemic on workforce reduction, one would assume these two factors would lower the number of pregnancy employment discrimination filings. However, the opposite happened.  One statistical analysis found that despite these factors, there was a 16% increase in federal pregnancy discrimination claims filed in 2020 than in the previous year 2019 alone. This was the largest increase in federal pregnancy discrimination filings in the prior three years.

This is true all over the country and no pregnant employee in any business or trade is immune from this kind of discrimination, which is incredibly sex-biased.

Pregnancy Discrimination Encompasses More than Illegal Termination.

In this writer’s opinion, sex discrimination is at the core of pregnancy discrimination. Pregnancy discrimination  involves treating a female applicant or employee unfavorably because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to her pregnancy or childbirth.

Depending on whether the case is filed under a federal or state law, there are differences in the kinds of employers who are covered employers and the types of claims that may be filed, and this is true also of claims involving  pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth.

Under certain federal laws, including the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, an employer must “qualify” to be covered under the federal law, i.e., have a certain number of employees to be covered by the law. This number of employees varies depending on whether the employer is a private company, a state or local government , a federal agency, a union or an employment agency; and the kind of discrimination alleged, i.e., if it’s a discrimination based on a person's race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, sex discriminations including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation, or genetic information.

The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act 42 USCS § 2000e, prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. This Act applies to all employers having at least 15 employees. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, such as leave and health insurance, and any other term or condition of employment.

In New Jersey, pregnancy is a protected class under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. Under this New Jersey statute, all protected classes are protected from discrimination by NJ employers. This prohibition against discrimination applies to all employers, notwithstanding if a public entity or private, and regardless of size.

Pregnant Employees Are Entitled to Receive Accommodations for Their Pregnancy

Employees who are pregnant are entitled by law to receive the accommodations that other temporarily disabled employees are entitled to receive. Accommodations may include placing pregnant employees on light duty if available.

The federal statistics to not accurately disclose the extent of discrimination against pregnant women in the workforce because they do not include the thousands of cases brought under the individual state statutes, such as the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. No pregnant employee is immune from this insidious discrimination, no matter her profession. A sample of cases that have recently settled throughout the country is illustrative:

On April 26, 2022, a federal contractor settled a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit for $70,000.  DLS Engineering Associates, LLC, is based in Virginia Beach, Virginia. DLS will pay $70,000 and furnish other relief to settle this pregnancy discrimination lawsuit. Here it was alleged that DLS rescinded a solid offer of employment once they learned of the woman’s pregnancy. DLS offered the woman a position as an engineering logistics analyst in Jacksonville, Florida. After she told the company’s vice president that she was five months pregnant, he rescinded her offer of employment, explaining the company could not hire someone who was pregnant.

On April 6, 2022, a Long Island-based company that leases and sells storage containers and office trailers, settled it pregnancy discrimination case and will pay $85,000 and furnish other relief as part of the settlement. It was charged that this company, Cassone Leasing, Inc., quickly terminated an employee upon learning of her pregnant status.

According to the lawsuit, Cassone hired the employee in early April 2018, when she was approximately twelve weeks pregnant. At that time of her hire, she did not disclose her pregnancy to the employer and her pregnancy was not visible. One month later, on May 10, 2018, Cassone gave the employee her 30-day review, giving her an employee performance evaluation score of “89,” which was just one point less than “Excellent.” Despite her high employee performance evaluation score, just 4 days later Cassone fired her on May 14, 2018. This termination was less than one week after she disclosed her pregnancy to the HR department. The following day, Cassone filled her position with a non-pregnant employee. Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which prohibits discrimination because of pregnancy.

In October of 2021, a company doing business as a Holiday Inn settled a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit and agreed to pay. In this matter, it was charged that the employer declared employee was a ‘liability’ due to pregnancy. According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the company’s operations manager told an employee that she noticed the size of the employee’s stomach, referring to her being pregnant. The operations manager of the company told the employee she was a “liability” because of her pregnancy. The reason given for the termination was that she could not allow a pregnant woman to work for the employer. Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which prohibits employers from discriminating against pregnant employees.

Don’t Sit on Your Rights!

I have successfully represented pregnant employees, including pregnant, non-tenured teachers whose contacts were not renewed, against private and public employers succeeded in recovering money for them.

Termination when you are pregnant is exponentially harmful to the mother, the child and the family, because it comes at a time when the family’s economic needs are increased. If you believe you were the target of pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, or feel your employer treated you unfairly because of pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition, resulting in termination or a refusal to rehire, it is important to consult with an aggressive and experienced employment attorney.

If you complained about such discrimination and your employer then retaliated against you, you may also have a claim for retaliation. If you believe you are being subjected to such unlawful workplace discrimination or retaliation, please contact Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law today for a free consultation.

Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law serves clients throughout New Jersey, including Bergen, Middlesex, Essex, Hudson, Monmouth, Ocean, Union, Camden, Passaic, and Morris Counties with locations in Southern, Central, and Northern NJ to meet with clients.


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