TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Division on Civil Rights announced today that the Division has issued a Finding of Probable Cause (FPC) against a South Jersey health care facility for unlawfully discharging an employee after learning she was pregnant.
South Jersey Extended Care, a privately-run rehabilitation services and long-term nursing care facility in Bridgeton, is accused of violating the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) by terminating employee Taishan J. Smith because she was pregnant.
Smith’s complaint to the Division alleged that she told management she was pregnant on July 25, 2017 – her second day on the job as an Activity Aide – and that she was essentially let go after finishing her work shift that same day.
“These would be troubling allegations at any time, but they are particularly troubling when you consider that our Legislature amended the LAD in 2014 for the express purpose of protecting pregnant workers,” said Attorney General Grewal. “All employers in New Jersey need to make certain their policies, as well as their handling of situations involving pregnant employees, reflect a clear understanding of the rights of those workers under New Jersey law.”
“Stereotypes about what pregnant women can and cannot do harm women’s ability to participate as equals in the workforce,” said Division on Civil Rights Director Rachel Wainer Apter. “Under the LAD, employers cannot make assumptions about a pregnant woman’s ability to perform her job duties or her commitment to her job.”
In her complaint, Smith alleged that upon disclosing her pregnancy, she was told by her supervisor that it would be a “liability” for her to work at South Jersey Extended Care and she should go home.
Subsequently, Smith alleged, she reached out via Snapchat to the person who had provided her with a schedule for her first two days of work. The co-worker allegedly responded that he’d been told to advise Smith not to return, and explained that she’d been let go because of her pregnancy.
During the State’s investigation, Smith provided a text chain with another person who worked at South Jersey Extended Care who alleged that, around the same time, she was also told that she would be terminated because she was pregnant.
A Finding of Probable Cause does not resolve a civil rights complaint. Rather, it means the State has concluded its preliminary investigation and determined there is sufficient evidence to support a reasonable suspicion New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (LAD) has been violated.
The South Jersey Extended Care investigation was handled by DCR Investigator Susan Huaccamayta.