Pregnancy Discrimination in NYC

Pregnancy Discrimination in NYC:  What laws protect pregnant women from pregnancy discrimination in NYC?  New York City has recently enacted the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which requires employers in New York City who employ at least four employees to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees. Striving to prevent pregnancy discrimination in NYC, the new law mandates that employers provide “reasonable accommodations” to workers who are pregnant or who have a medical condition related to pregnancy and childbirth. Such accommodations could include “bathroom breaks, leave for a period of disability arising from childbirth, breaks to facilitate increased water intake, periodic rest for those who stand for long periods of time, and assistance with manual labor, among other things.”  The employer will not have to provide any accommodation if they prove that  (1) the accommodations would be an “undue hardship”; (2)  the pregnant worker would not be able to “satisfy the essential requisites” of her job even with the accommodation; or (3) the employer has fewer than four employees.

While there are three different federal laws that are applicable to protect an employee from pregnancy discrimination in NYC, the New York City council found these laws may be insufficient to help pregnant workers retain their jobs and therefore enacted the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

The Americans with Disabilities Act is a federal law provides protection for a  small number of pregnant workers such as women who have severe pregnancy related disorders although the range of pregnancy-related conditions that are covered is not really clear.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is another federal law that requires employers to treat pregnant employees the same way they treat other employees who are “similar in their ability or inability to work.” But under this law, employers are not required to provide any special accommodations for pregnant women.

The Family Medical Leave Act is the third federal law that allows employees (who are covered employees under the FMLA) to take up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave to address “serious health condition[s]” that make them unable to work.

Therefore, federal laws may be inadequate to protect workers who need minor, pregnancy related accommodations to remain working.   The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act works to protect this category of workers and helps prevent pregnancy discrimination in NYC.