National retailer America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses is to pay a former employee at its Burlington site $30,500 as part of a settlement of allegations of workplace discrimination related to pregnancy.
The retailer is also being forced to review training and reporting related to anti-discrimination.
According to the Attorney General’s office, the complainant was treated differently by America’s Best when she returned from maternity leave in March 2019. Her hours were reduced from full-time to part-time – she was told just days before his return. — and it eliminated his eligibility for employer-provided health care.
The complainant added that she was forced to express her milk in an often-accessible laundry room, which had no locks and was full of boxes of supplies. While expressing breast milk, she said, she was forced to lean against the door in an attempt to provide privacy, but was still interrupted by workers who needed to get supplies .
Under New Jersey’s anti-discrimination law, an employer must provide reasonable accommodation to an employee who is breastfeeding. A busy supply closet doesn’t count, officials noted.
“This case should send a clear message to New Jersey employers that we will not tolerate discrimination against pregnant or nursing workers,” Acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin said. “Companies, managers and supervisory staff must understand that they have a legal responsibility to protect the rights of these workers.”
The former employee filed her complaint with the Civil Rights Division in March 2019. She had started at America’s Best as a full-time salesperson in May 2018 and went on maternity leave on November 19 of the same year.
Time sheets obtained by DCR showed that the complainant worked an average of 28 hours per week after her return to work, compared to 34 hours before her maternity leave.
According to DCR, America’s Best finally installed a lock on the laundry room where the ex-employee was forced to express her breast milk, nearly three months after she returned to work from maternity leave.
America’s Best has 24 outlets in New Jersey and 700 nationwide.
In addition to monetary payments, America’s Best must create and execute a training module on the company’s anti-discrimination policy; organize separate training for managers and supervisors in New Jersey; and provide DCR with reports listing all accommodation requests and pregnancy-related complaints over the next three years.
Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]
Click here to contact an editor about a comment or correction for this story.