Pregnancy Discrimination

Discrimination on the basis of one’s pregnancy, childbirth or related conditions is prohibited by a variety of federal, state and local laws.

Pregnancy discrimination is a form of sex discrimination. An employer cannot fire, refuse to hire, or take other adverse employment actions against an employee because she is pregnant or may become pregnant.

Employers are also prohibited from basing employment decisions on stereotypical assumptions about what pregnant women can and cannot do. Employers are prohibited from forcing a pregnant employee to take a leave of absence, cut her hours, or transfer her to a less competitive or demanding position if the employee is able to perform her job.

New York City Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

As of January 30, 2014, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act requires employers in New York City with four or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations necessary because of pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition. The kind of accommodations that the new law requires employers to provide include frequent bathroom breaks, breaks to facilitate increased water intake, periodic rest for those workers who stand for long periods of time, assistance with manual labor, and a period of recovery after childbirth.

Employers who fail to provide pregnant workers with reasonable accommodations, and cannot prove the reasonable accommodations would have caused undue hardship, may be sued and found liable for damages.

This law provides important protection to pregnant workers; federal and New York State anti-discrimination laws do not require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees who are pregnant because pregnancy without medical complications is not considered a disability.

The New York City Counsel was prompted to act on behalf of pregnant workers after publication of this op-ed published in the New York Times from Dina Bankst, the founder of the non-profit, A Better Balance, which promotes the advancement of pregnant women and caregivers in the American workplace.

If you are pregnant and your employer refuses to make reasonable accommodations to ensure that you can work and stay healthy throughout your pregnancy, consult with an experienced employment lawyer.