Pregnant or Breastfeeding Employees: New Jersey Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) Explained

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Pregnant or Breastfeeding Employees: New Jersey Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) Explained

The New Jersey Supreme Court has issued an opinion on Delanoy v. Township of Ocean, which alleges a violation of the New Jersey Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). This opinion describes the court’s interpretation of the law’s breadth as well as how it applies to employers. 

The case regards a pregnant police officer of the Township of Ocean. This officer attempted to use the department’s light-duty policy, which required officers to use their leave. The officer found that the policy would allow non-pregnant officers receiving light duty to potentially have their use of leave waived, but not those receiving it due to pregnancy.

The PWFA protects pregnant and breastfeeding women from both discharge and discrimination just the same as other protected characteristics such as race, religion, and ethnicity are. It also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodation to pregnant or breastfeeding women upon request unless it would prove undue hardship.

The Supreme Court of New Jersey unanimously found the department’s policies discriminatory by providing unfavorable treatment to pregnant women. NJ employers must ensure all employees pregnant and not requiring similar accommodations receive equal treatment.