Protecting Pregnant Women on the Job [AUDIO]
New Jersey's legislature has given final approval to a bill that bars workplace discrimination against pregnant women.
The measure would prohibit discrimination against women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, including recovery from childbirth.
"What is occurring right now is we have workplaces that are not making short-term accommodations for women who, at any point in time during their pregnancy, need to modify how they work, where they work, when they work," said Assemblywoman Pam Lampitt (D-Voorhees).
Lampitt said as a pregnancy nears six or seven months, some women have trouble standing as long as they usually can, and may have to use the bathroom more frequently.
"Some women need to get up and walk around," Lampitt said. "They can't sit for that period of time, and that's the opposing sort of situation."
The bill would apply to any point in time during a woman's pregnancy where she might need what Lampitt calls a "simple accommodation," not a fixed nine-month timeframe.
"We're looking at reasonable solutions towards women, and being accommodated during a short period of time," Lampitt said. "Too many times women may be forced to make choices, and we don't want them to have to make bad choices."
Additionally, the bill prohibits any leave for pregnant employees from being less favorable than accommodations an employer may choose to provide to non-pregnant employees. It bars the employer from penalizing an employee in terms, conditions or privileges of employment for requesting or using the accommodations.
The bill also stipulates that it is not to be construed as otherwise increasing or decreasing employee rights to paid or unpaid leave.
"This is about making sure," Lampitt said, "that our laws reflect 21st-century society where discrimination is not tolerated or condoned."
The measure, which has already been passed by the state Senate, now heads to Gov. Chris Christie's desk for consideration.