Target: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
Goal: Commend law defining new protections for pregnant employees
It is no secret that the US Pregnancy Discrimination Act does not go far enough in protecting the safety and employment of pregnant workers; the law prevents workplace discrimination on the basis of childbirth or pregnancy, but many pregnant women continue to suffer from a lack of accommodation in their workplace, and many face financial struggles as a result of being forced out of work or into taking unpaid leave. In several cases, pregnant workers have been forced to complete strenuous work which resulted in miscarriages, and these stories are just the tip of the iceberg. New Jersey recently became the latest of a handful of states to pass legislation intended to close the loopholes left by the federal law. In an age where almost two-thirds of first-time mothers continue to work during their pregnancies, as compared to less than half fifty years ago, these protections could not be more urgently needed.
New Jersey’s law, which applies to employers as well as lenders and landlords, extends the existing anti-retaliation and anti-discrimination protections of the state’s Law Against Discrimination to women who are pregnant or who have recently given birth. Furthermore, it includes special workplace protections for pregnant workers, mandating necessary accommodations such as appropriate bathroom and rest breaks, the ability to carry a water bottle, and assistance from the employer in modifying responsibilities so as to avoid work that could endanger the health of the mother or child. New Jersey legislators acknowledged the urgency and nonpartisan nature of the bill by passing it through both the Senate and the House with a nearly unanimous vote.
By signing this petition, you are commending Gov. Christie and the New Jersey House and Senate for their attention to the devastating lack of comprehensive federal protections for pregnant taxpayers. You are thanking them for acknowledging and enshrining the most basic necessary rights for pregnant workers in state law.
Dear Governor Christie and the NJ Legislature,
The vulnerability of pregnant workers has only increased in the last fifty years, as more and more women are continuing to work during their pregnancies, whether by choice or financial necessity. In the face of rampant abuse of pregnant women in the workplace – from the denial of work and paid leave to the assignment of hazardous work that can lead to miscarriages and health issues – the dearth of comprehensive federal protections in this regard has placed the onus on state legislatures to draw up their own.
Therefore, I applaud New Jersey’s recent law, which enshrines many vital rights for pregnant citizens within and beyond the workplace, with the extension of existing anti-retaliation and anti-discrimination protections to pregnant women and those who have recently given birth, as well as the definition of appropriate health and safety accommodations for pregnant workers. I commend you for the nearly unanimous passage of this law, which serves as a testament to the nonpartisan urgency of protecting pregnant women and their unborn children from discrimination and abuse.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: United States Government Work via Flickr