A North Bergen company will pay a former employee $25,000 and implement workforce policy reforms as part of a settlement for lawsuit that alleged pregnancy discrimination.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
The settlement involves a former packager for the North Bergen order-fulfillment company Bergen Logistics, who alleges that the company denied her request for pregnancy-related accommodations, including as-needed bathroom breaks and a 20-pound limit on any items she would be assigned to lift.
After she filed a complaint, the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights investigation found that Bergen Logistics made no effort to accommodate her pregnancy but instead required her to take unpaid family leave.
“Our laws prohibit pregnancy-related discrimination in employment to protect workplace equality and to ensure that workers aren’t penalized for having children,” New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in a statement.
“Employers need to be certain they understand and respect the legal protections for workers who become pregnant and want to continue working. We take seriously the rights of all workers, and will hold accountable any employer whose policies deny or diminish those rights.”
DCR’s investigation of Bergen Logistics also discovered that the company had a policy under which employees were permitted to work only when they had no medical restrictions.
Such a policy violates state anti-discrimination laws that protect individuals with disabilities and individuals who are pregnant.
In accordance with that policy, the company told the employee she could return to work only if she provided a doctor’s a note stating she had no physical restrictions.
“The New Jersey Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) was enacted to prevent the precise harm suffered by the women in these cases,” added DCR Deputy Director Rosemary DiSavino.
“Women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or who experience pregnancy-related medical conditions must be provided with a reasonable accommodation under the law, and cannot simply be told to take a leave of absence.”
Under the settlement announced today, Bergen Logistics must pay the woman $25,000 to settle the case, implement a new anti-discrimination policy consistent with the PWFA, and provide training for all employees on the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and the company’s policies regarding pregnancy-and disability-related accommodations.
Additionally, for the next two years, at six-month intervals, the company must notify DCR of all complaints filed by employees under its anti-discrimination policy.
Two other Findings of Probable Cause announced today involve similar issues of unlawful pregnancy discrimination.
A Finding of Probable Cause means that DCR has concluded its preliminary investigation of a civil rights complaint and determined there is sufficient evidence to support a claim that a state anti-discrimination law has been violated.