On October 2, 2013, New York City’s Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, signed into law legislation designed to prevent discrimination in the workplace based on pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. The new law recognizes New York City Council’s findings that pregnant women are vulnerable to discrimination in the workplace, citing reports of women who had requested accommodations to maintain a healthy pregnancy or to recover from childbirth, only to be removed from their positions, placed on unpaid leave, or fired.
The law provides examples of reasonable accommodations, which may 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. There is an exception, however, as employers are not required to provide an accommodation if doing so would cause the employer’s business to suffer an “undue hardship.” To determine whether an accommodation would cause undue hardship, employers should consider factors such as the nature and cost of the accommodation and their overall financial resources.
The law will take effect on January 30, 2014, and will apply to all New York City businesses with four or more employees including independent contractors. Under the new law, employers will also be required to conspicuously post and provide written notice (which will be created by New York City’s Commission on Human Rights) to employees of their right to be free from discrimination due to pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions. Employees who believe they have been discriminated against will be able to file a complaint with the Commission on Human Rights or bring an action in court against their employer.
For more information on how New York City’s expanded legal protections for pregnant women may affect your workplace, please contact Dena B. Calo, Esq., Director of the Human Resources Practice Group and Partner in the Employment Law & Litigation Group, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Joshua E. Knapp, Esq., Associate in the Employment Law & Litigation Group, at email@example.com.