Senate Democrats To Upgrade Law Against Discrimination

TRENTON – The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill today, S-2522, to forbid employers from discriminating against women in the workplace because they become pregnant or are mothers. It now goes to the full Senate for a vote.

“It’s an outrage to consider that, in this day and age, women actually don’t have protection in the workplace from being harassed or fired for becoming pregnant,” said Senator John H. Adler, Committee Chairman and a prime sponsor of the bill. “Today, we are beginning the fix to that bad situation.”

Senator Wayne R. Bryant, another sponsor of the bill, said the measure responds to a court case which held that the current 60-year-old Law Against Discrimination did not forbid employers from terminating women who become pregnant.

“The bill also would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant women such as allowing them to sit on stools while working at a checkout counter,” said Senator Bryant, D-Camden and Gloucester.

The bill also would ban employers from invoking “English only” language policies in the workplace unless it can be justified based on business-related needs. The proposal would overturn a state appeals court ruling which justified firings of workers who insisted on speaking in a foreign language.

A business necessity which would justify that workers speak English only would be a safety reason or a needed contact with the public in which the goal of the particular business such as efficient food service delivery could not be achieved through use of non-English speaking workers.

The Law Against Discrimination makes it unlawful to subject people to differential treatment based on race, creed, color, national origin, nationality, ancestry, age, sex, marital status, domestic partnership status, affectional or sexual orientation, atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait, genetic information, liability for military service, mental or physical disability, perceived disability and AIDS and HIV status.

Specifically, the Law Against Discrimination prohibits such discrimination in employment, housing, places of public accommodation, credit and business contracts.

The bill was approved by the committee without opposition.

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