At a recent meeting, the New Jersey General Assembly Labor Committee advanced three bills that would expand workplace protections for employees under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”).
The first bill, A-2294, seeks to amend the LAD to add protections for breastfeeding employees. Specifically, A-2294 adds “breastfeeding” as a protected characteristics under the LAD, further seeking to amend the LAD to state that “‘pregnancy or breastfeeding’ means pregnancy, childbirth, and breast feeding or expressing milk for breastfeeding, or medical conditions related to pregnancy, [or] childbirth, or breastfeeding, including recovery from childbirth.” In the employment context, this means that adverse employment actions based on breastfeeding, as defined, would be prohibited.
Furthermore, A-2294 would require employers to accommodate breastfeeding employees, including a requirement that the accommodation “shall include reasonable break time each day to the employee and a suitable room or other location with privacy, other than a toilet stall, in close proximity to the work area for the employee to express breast milk for the child.”
The second bill, A-2646, would add “familial status” as a protected characteristic under the LAD. A committee comment to the bill notes that familial status means:
[B]eing the natural parent of a child, the adoptive parent of a child, the resource family parent of a child, having a ‘parent and child relationship’ with a child as defined by State law, or having sole or joint legal or physical custody, care, guardianship, or visitation with a child, or any person who is pregnant or is in the process of securing legal custody of any individual who has not attained the age of 18 years.
The Assembly Labor Committee also advanced a third bill we have previously discussed, A-3480/A-4119, which would prohibit employers from asking employees about their wage/salary history.
Of course, normal legislative caveats apply: these are the bills in their current form, which may or may not ultimately be enacted, and which may or may not be amended to varying degrees if ultimately enacted. We will continue to monitor these pieces of legislation and will provide relevant updates should they move in the New Jersey Legislature.