Pregnancy and the Workplace

How Does Pregnancy Affect Workers’ Comp?

The onset of a pregnancy can be a challenging time for a soon-to-be mother. One must be able to take care of themselves, and their unborn child. The caretaker may be in a reduced capacity due to conditions associated with pregnancy. Fortunately, there are laws in place to protect pregnant employees as well as injured workers.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits Provides a Safety Net

Most employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. This provides injured employees with a way accessing financial compensation through the courts. Benefits can cover a variety of vulnerable circumstances related to your condition, including:

  • Medical care, treatment, and rehabilitation related to the injury or illness.
  • Temporary disability benefits for lost wages during your inability to work.
  • Permanent disability benefits if your injury prevents you from returning to work.
  • Death benefits awarded to dependents of the deceased worker if their death was a result of work-related injury or illness. These may cover funeral expenses. It can also cover college expenses should the child go to college in the future.

If your pregnancy is diagnosed while you are on workers’ compensation benefits, you may be able to receive preferential circumstances based on your condition. For more information, an experienced workers’ compensation attorney may be able to help you.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

The federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is recent, passed in May 2021, and provides an amendment to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD). The NJ law now includes medical conditions related to pregnancy, childbirth, and recovery, including breastfeeding. The law states that:

  • Reasonable accommodations must be made to employees with said limitations. An exception is if the accommodations pose an undue hardship on the employer.
  • It is unlawful to require an employee to accept an accommodation not reasonable, or not arrived through an interactive process.
  • An employer cannot deny employment opportunities to a qualified employee.
  • An employer cannot require employees to take paid or unpaid leave if any other reasonable accommodation can be made.
  • An employer cannot take adverse action in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment against a qualified employee requesting or using reasonable accommodations.[1]

Pregnancy-Related Discrimination

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 further prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy or childbirth. This applies to hiring, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, fringe benefits, firing, and other conditions of employment. An employer may also not create an unreasonable separate set of conditions for maternity leave eligibility compared to other types of time off from work. For example, an employer cannot prevent an employee from working for a predetermined time after childbirth. If an employee also took time off from work due to a pregnancy-related condition and recovers before the baby’s birth, the employer cannot prevent the employee from returning to work.[2]

Pregnancy Injury

If you experienced a pregnancy-related injury, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. This could cover the injury of a fetus as well as the child bearer. A person can only claim workers’ compensation benefits if the injury is a direct consequence of working for the company and sustains an injury or illness. A pregnancy injury is any injury that affects the health of the unborn child. This includes complications in childbirth as well as during the life of the child.

If because of an injury or illness to yourself, you also sustained an injury to the unborn child, benefits may be able to reflect your current conditions. Work-related injuries can cause complications to pregnancy and lead to additional harm inside her system. This can mean taking more time off from work than what would otherwise have been allowed or entering maternity leave prematurely. It can also mean recovering workers’ compensation benefits while you are leaving work to prepare for childbirth.[3]

Supporting Pregnant Employees

Certain jobs that are particularly hazardous includes industries with toxic chemicals, construction, electricity, or demanding manual labor. Jobs in these industries may have employment contracts with policies to support pregnant employees, but more can be done. As it is, pregnant employees may have a difficult time working in these jobs partly due to the arduous and hazardous nature of them. The health of the unborn is usually a priority for a pregnant individual, and any job that has the potential to undercut that can make someone second-guess working there. That is why there should be better support systems for employees regarding maternity leave in hazardous jobs, as well as conditions that support pregnant employees should they choose to work.[4]This includes:

  • The ability to take additional breaks or restroom access.
  • Prioritizing pregnant employees when it comes to work shifts.
  • Being flexible when it comes to the methods and equipment used in work. Having a separate set of conditions which are subject to change based upon an employee’s pregnancy can ensure that they receive the right treatment.
  • Although COVID-19 made this a commonality, allowing work-from-home policies for pregnant employees can ensure that they remain comfortable throughout a consequential time.


Even with all these protections, there is a legal history of prioritizing male over female with cases involving pregnant women. For example, a wrongful death claim from 1996 involved a male fetus and 6-year-old girl, both killed in a vehicle collision. The fetus attracted an 84 percent higher settlement than the girls. It is important to remember history so that we may work towards a more equitable future.

Pregnant and Injured? Call Us Today.

If you are pregnant and have suffered a work-related injury or illness, it is important to be proactive. Your injury is impacting your health. Yet, you may be unaware whether your injury may be impacting your pregnancy. In which case, you will want to see a doctor so that you can protect your unborn child.

In this scenario, you will also want to ascertain your rights. What are you qualified to receive in terms of compensation as well as work-related privileges and accommodations? These questions can be answered by an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who has worked with pregnant individuals before. To get in touch with one, call our office today, or fill out a case form, and we will get back to you.


[1] Library of Congress. (n.d.). H.R.1065 – Pregnant Workers Fairness Act 117th Congress (2021-2022). Retrieved May 15, 2022, from

[2] US EEOC. (n.d.). Fact Sheet: Pregnancy Discrimination. US EEOC. Retrieved May 15, 2022, from

[3] Legal Resources. (n.d.). Pregnancy – Is It Covered Under Workers’ Compensation? Retrieved May 15, 2022, from

[4] Ibid. is the website for the workers compensation attorneys firm of Livingston, DiMarzio LLP Our team of attorneys is made up of New Jersey Mesothelioma Lawyers, NJ Workers Comp Lawyers, Employment Lawyers and Certified New Jersey Worker’s Compensation Attorneys.