pregnancy discrimination laws

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.


New York Pregnancy Leave - What Are Employees Entitled To?

In New York, pregnancy leave is not guaranteed by law.  Accordingly, there is no obligation for an employer to provide its employees with any amount of leave for pregnancy. In other words, there is no provision for New York Pregnancy Leave.  Unless the company has a policy of providing such leave, they are not required to do so by law.

Nevertheless, many employees are entitled to request up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to care for a newborn child pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act.  For more information about such family or medical leave , please click on one of the articles below. A woman may also be entitled to disability benefits for the period of time that her doctor certifies that she is unable to work, up to 26 weeks. NY Work Comp Law sec. 201(9)(B).   

For more information:

Famly and Medical Leave in New York

FMLA Notice Requirements

If you have any additional questions about New York pregnancy leave, please contact us for a free consultation.  Our experienced lawyers have many years helping pregnant families navigate through the often confusing waters of requesting - and taking - pregnancy leave.


Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978

Pregnancy discrimination is on the rise. Too many people are unaware of their rights under the law. Set forth below are some of the protections afforded under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.  Title VII's pregnancy-related protections include: Hiring:  An employer cannot refuse to hire a pregnant woman because of her pregnancy, because of a pregnancy-related condition, or because of the prejudices of co-workers, clients, or customers.

Pregnancy Discrimination - Pregnancy and Maternity Leave: 

  • An employer may not single out pregnancy-related conditions for special procedures to determine an employee's ability to work. However, if an employer requires its employees to submit a doctor's statement concerning their inability to work before granting leave or paying sick benefits, the employer may require employees affected by pregnancy-related conditions to submit such statement.
  • If an employee is temporarily unable to perform her job because of her pregnancy, the employer must treat her the same as any other temporarily disabled employee. For example, if the employer allows temporarily disabled employees to modify tasks, perform alternative assignments, or take disability leave or leave without pay, the employer also must allow an employee who is temporarily disabled because of pregnancy to do the same.
  • Pregnant employees must be permitted to work as long as they are able to perform their jobs. If an employee has been absent from work as a result of a pregnancy-related condition and recovers, her employer may not require her to remain on leave until the baby's birth. An employer also may not have a rule that prohibits an employee from returning to work for a predetermined length of time after childbirth. Employers must hold open a job for a pregnancy-related absence the same length of time jobs are held open for employees on sick or disability leave

Pregnancy Discrimination - Health Insurance:

  • Any health insurance provided by an employer must cover expenses for pregnancy-related conditions on the same basis as costs for other medical conditions. An employer need not provide health insurance for expenses arising from abortion, except where the life of the mother is endangered.
  • Pregnancy-related expenses should be reimbursed exactly as those incurred for other medical conditions, whether payment is on a fixed basis or a percentage of reasonable-and-customary-charge basis.
  • The amounts payable by the insurance provider can be limited only to the same extent as amounts payable for other conditions. No additional, increased, or larger deductible can be imposed.
  • Employers must provide the same level of health benefits for spouses of male employees as they do for spouses of female employees.

Pregnancy Discrimination - Fringe Benefits:

  • Pregnancy-related benefits cannot be limited to married employees. In an all-female workforce or job classification, benefits must be provided for pregnancy-related conditions if benefits are provided for other medical conditions.
  • If an employer provides any benefits to workers on leave, the employer must provide the same benefits for those on leave for pregnancy-related conditions. Employees on leave because of pregnancy-related conditions must be treated the same as other temporarily disabled employees for accrual and crediting of seniority, vacation calculation, pay increases, and temporary disability benefits.

Retaliation: It is also unlawful to retaliate against an individual for opposing employment practices that discriminate based on pregnancy or for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation under Title VII.

If you believe you have been the victim of pregnancy discrimination, please contact us.