On January 21, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed Senate Bill S2995, banning pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. The bill amends New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (LAD) to expand protection for women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

Under the amendment, employers are prohibited from discriminating against pregnant workers or otherwise treating pregnant women less favorably than those who are not pregnant but have similar work abilities. Employers must also provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees who  request them on the advice of their physicians. Reasonable accommodations may include restroom breaks, permission to carry a water bottle, periodic rest, assistance with manual labor, job restructuring, a modified work schedule, or a temporary transfer to work that is less physically demanding or hazardous. The law does not affect employees’ current leave rights.

Employers do not have to make accommodations if the accommodations would amount to an undue hardship. Factors to be considered in determining whether an accommodation is an undue hardship include: the size of the business; the type of its operations; the nature and cost of the accommodation, taking into consideration the availability of tax credits, tax deductions, and outside funding; and the extent to which the proposed accommodation would involve waiving an essential requirement of a job. Employers may not penalize employees in the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment for requesting or using a pregnancy-related  workplace  accommodation.

The amendment does not have a separate notice requirement, but New Jersey employers are required to conspicuously display the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights’ (the Division) official poster in the workplace. Employers should ensure compliance with the new law by training human resources employees and managers to handle accommodation requests, reviewing, and, if necessary, revising reasonable accommodation policies and procedures, as well as posting an updated Division poster when it becomes available.

New Jersey joins Alaska, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Texas, and New York City in requiring some or all employers to provide certain types of accommodations to pregnant workers.

Click here for the full text of the amendment.