Pregnant employees have the right to work, and employers must make reasonable pregnancy accommodations for employees. Pregnancy accommodations are required under federal, state, and New York City law. Unfortunately, some employers discriminate against pregnant women and women of childbearing age.
If you have been discriminated against or had adverse actions taken against you by your employer because you are pregnant or have children, it’s important that you reach out to a pregnancy discrimination attorney. At Lipsky Lowe LLP, we stand up for the rights of pregnant New York city employees. If you believe your employer has violated your rights in any way, please contact Lipsky Lowe LLP as soon as possible to learn more about your legal options.
Employee Protections Against Pregnancy Discrimination
If you are a pregnant employee in New York City, you have important legal rights against harassment and discrimination for being pregnant. You also have the right to specific accommodations that allow you to perform your job despite any limitations caused by pregnancy or childbirth. Multiple laws protect pregnant employees from discrimination based on sex and other factors.
Employers cannot treat a pregnancy differently than other medical conditions in the workplace. For example, an employer cannot take adverse action against an employee who must attend prenatal appointments during work hours when that same employer doesn’t penalize employees for taking time off for other medical appointments. Additionally, employers cannot retaliate against pregnant employees for complaining about discrimination, harassment, or a lack of pregnancy accommodation.
The Federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)
Two important federal laws protect pregnant workers. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers to give employees 12 weeks of unpaid leave when an employee cannot work because of high-risk pregnancy or complications from a child’s birth. The employer must hold her job open if she returns to work at the end of the 12 weeks.
The employer must make the employee’s medical insurance available during the leave of absence. Additionally, the employer must have at least 50 employees to be covered under the FMLA. The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (the PDA) prohibits employers from discriminating against employees because of pregnancy. Under this law, employers can’t discriminate against pregnant employees in hiring, firing, or promoting an employee.
The New York City Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (The PWFA)
Every employer in New York City with four or more employees cannot discriminate against employees because of pregnancy. This law prevents employers from forcing employees to quit or firing them because they are pregnant. Employers have an affirmative duty to reasonably accommodate pregnant employees’ needs so they can keep their employees while performing the essential duties of their job.
The essential duties may not be everything the employee typically does as part of her job. For example, she may have the right to have additional breaks and change the work location as long as the accommodation doesn’t place undue hardship on the employer. The employer has the duty to prove that making a pregnancy accommodation isn’t an undue hardship.
New York State’s Human Rights Law
The New York State’s Human Rights Law also offers protection for pregnancy accommodations. The law requires employers to accommodate the needs of nursing mothers to express breast milk at their place of employment. Employers must provide the mother with a clean, sanitary, and private place to express breast milk. A toilet in a bathroom does not meet this requirement. Employers also need to make reasonable accommodations to the employee’s work schedule to allow her to express breast milk.
Employers Must Make Reasonable Pregnancy Accommodations
New York City employment laws give pregnant women and new mothers additional rights.
The New York City human rights law was amended to include additional protections for pregnant women and new mothers. Specifically, the regulations state that employers cannot require mothers to overexert themselves at work and jeopardize their health. The law allows women to request a reasonable accommodation to continue performing their jobs. Common examples of reasonable accommodations that pregnant women can request at work include the following:
- A temporary transfer from a job that is too physically demanding
- Assistance with physically demanding tasks from other employees
- Additional breaks to rest or get drinks of water
- Protection from a working environment with toxins or substances that could harm a child
- Making changes to a work schedule
- Allowing women to take time away from work to recover after giving birth
When Can Employers Refuse to Make Accommodations to Pregnant Women?
Employers can refuse to grant accommodations to a pregnant employee in some circumstances. The employer must prove that the pregnancy accommodation would cause undue hardship. Alternatively, the employer will need to prove that the accommodation would prevent the employee from performing the essential requirements of their position. However, employers can’t deny an employee accommodation for undue hardship and then grant a similar type of accommodation to an employee with a different medical condition or limiting disability.
Healthy Pregnancies and High-Risk Pregnancies Are Protected
An employer may claim they do not have to offer you reasonable accommodations because your pregnancy is healthy. The law protects pregnant employees and those who are recovering from giving birth, nursing, or have medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth. You don’t have to prove that your pregnancy is experiencing complications or that you are officially medically disabled to qualify for these important protections.
Those with perfectly healthy pregnancies are entitled to reasonable accommodations in the workplace and to eliminate strenuous work. You also have a right to keep your job after giving birth. All Employers in New York City must comply with this law. If your employer refuses to comply with this law, it’s essential that you reach out to an attorney as soon as possible.
Discuss Your Case with an Experienced Pregnancy Discrimination Attorney
At Lipsky Lowe LLP, our employment attorneys take the rights of all employees seriously, including those of pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. We have an end up understanding of New York State and New York City human rights laws. Our attorneys know how to hold players accountable for failure to make pregnancy accommodations for their employees. Contact Lipsky Lowe LLP today to schedule your initial consultation and learn more about your rights.