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New Rights for New York City’s Pregnant Women

On October 2, 2013, New York City Mayor Bloomberg signed into law the New York City Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, Local Law 78 of 2013 (the “Pregnant Workers Fairness Act,” “Local Law 78,” or the “NYCPWFA”). On September 24, 2013, the New York City Council had approved the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act by a unanimous vote of 47 to zero.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act amends sections 8-102 and 8-107 of the New York City Human Rights Law, N.Y. City Admin. Code §§ 8-101 – 8-131. This new amendment broadens the scope of protection for pregnant female employees greater than the Pregnancy Discrimination Act the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the New York Human Rights Law, which generally only require employers to make reasonable accommodations when there is an overwhelming medical complication or if the pregnancy becomes disabling. Essentially under this new amendment, the law requires employers to offer reasonable accommodations not just for medical emergencies or especially troubling pregnancies, but all pregnancies. The effect of this new law puts healthy pregnancy on par with a disability for the purpose of workplace accommodations.

Effective later this month on January 30, 2014, New York City businesses with four (4) or more employees, including individuals properly classified as independent will be required to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees and provide notice of this right to all of their employees. Covered employers must notify employees of the right to be free from pregnancy discrimination, and they will be required to give this information to all new and existing employees.

Under the new amendment, such employers must provide reasonable accommodations for the needs of the employee for her pregnancy, childbirth or any related medical conditions that are “known or should have been known” to the employer. Examples of the accommodations 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.” Typical to other versions of disability laws, however, accommodations would not need to be provided if doing so poses an “undue hardship,” on the employer because the nature of the facility, or nature and cost of the accommodation makes the accommodations too burdensome, or the finances of the business are unreasonably affected. It is likely that in most cases however, these rights would be afforded to all pregnant women in New York City working for covered employers.
Pregnant or childbearing workers in New York City being denied these reasonable accommodations may sue their employers for non-capped compensatory damages, punitive damages, and, if they prevail and at the court’s discretion, costs and reasonable attorney’s fees. See N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-502(a), 8-502(f).

For more detailed information regarding federal and state law prohibiting employment discrimination, visit New York Pregnancy Discrimination and Harrassment sttorneys with a focus in Employment Discrimination, including Pregnancy Discrimination and Harassment, can protect your interests and your right. If you would like to get a consultation with one of our New York employment discrimination attorneys, do not hesitate to contact us at Borrelli and Associates immediately. We are eager to review your evidence and give you advice.

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