New York City Council Passes Law to Protect Pregnant Workers

In late September, the New York City Council unanimously passed a law that prohibits employers from discriminating against a woman based upon her pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. The bill was signed into law by Mayor Bloomberg on October 2nd and will go into effect in January 2014.

The bill, sponsored by Council member James Vacca, requires employers in the city to provide reasonable accommodations such as an increased number of bathroom breaks to pregnant workers. According to Vacca, discrimination investigations often take a long time, and pregnant women must be protected so that they may continue to earn wages in order to care for their child. The issue is especially important in New York where single mothers accounted for approximately 35 percent of all pregnancies in 2011.

Under the new law, a pregnant employee who feels she suffered unlawful discrimination at work may choose to file a lawsuit or to file a complaint with the Commission on Human Rights. The Commission may then order an employer to hire an applicant who was discriminated against, pay damages or back pay to a worker, and “cease and desist” the discriminatory behavior. Employers who do not comply with the Commission’s order may also be fined up to $50,000. In New York City, 154 pregnancy discrimination complaints were filed with the Commission since 2002. The outcome of those cases resulted in about half a million dollars in settlements and $12,000 in employer fines.

The nation’s Pregnancy Discrimination Act makes it illegal for an employer in New York and elsewhere to fire or demote a woman because she is pregnant. Under the act, an employer must offer reasonable accommodations to a pregnant employee as long as the adjustment will not result in undue hardship to the employer’s business. Additionally, the New York Human Rights Law prohibits an employer from firing a woman based on her pregnancy status.

When an employer treats a pregnant employee in a negative manner as a result of her pregnancy status or a related medical condition, discrimination has occurred. Discriminatory behavior can include an employer who refuses to provide a reasonable accommodation to a pregnant worker, a manager who terminates, punishes, or demotes a pregnant employee over a pregnancy-related medical leave request, and a variety of other circumstances. If you believe that you were the victim of workplace discrimination due to your pregnancy, you should discuss your rights with a quality employment attorney.

The dedicated lawyers at Phillips & Associates have years of experience representing the victims of pregnancy discrimination and workplace sexual harassment in New York City and surrounding areas. At Phillips & Associates, our knowledgeable attorneys are here to help you protect your rights at the city, state, and federal levels. To schedule a free, confidential consultation with a caring advocate, please give our committed lawyers a call at (212) 248-7431 or contact Phillips & Associates through our website.

More Blog Posts:

Female Workers in New York and Nationwide Cannot be Fired Over Their Pregnancy Status, New York Employment Attorney Blog, September 27, 2013
Queens Seamstress Files $30 Million Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Brooks Brothers in New York City, New York Employment Attorney Blog, September 16, 2013
Additional Resources:

City Strengthens Protections Against Discrimination of Pregnant Workers, by Sarah Matheson, Epoch Times


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