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New York's Mayor Bloomberg Signs Ban On Pregnancy Discrimination Into Law

19 Oct 2013


Immigration News

Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed prohibition of pregnancy discrimination by employers of New York City into law legislation. Last month, the legislation was passed unanimously by the New York City Council. This law prohibits employers from refusing to provide a feasible accommodation for pregnant women. It is an amendment to the Human Rights Law of New York City and applies to all businesses with 4 or more independent contractors or employees.

Employers have to provide an accommodation except when they can show that either they will face an ‘undue hardship’ in preparing a necessary accommodation or that the employee who is seeking the accommodation cannot, upon giving the requested accommodation, perform her essential job duties. Hence, for covered New York City employers, the law institutes requirement of reasonable accommodation for all pregnant employees.

As per the legislative findings accompanied by the law, it may also include leave for a period of disability emerging from childbirth, bathroom breaks, periodic rest for employees who stand for long periods of time, assistance with manual labor and breaks to help increased water intake, among other things.

In addition to providing reasonable accommodations, employers should give written information about their rights to pregnant workers. New employees should get a notice at the onset of employment and existing employees should get it within 120 days after the effective date of the law.

The law allows a worker who believes she has been discriminated either to file a civil lawsuit to ask for changes in policy or damages, or to make a complaint to the Human Rights Commission of New York City. Employers who do not adhere to the law could face imprisonment, be fined up to $250,000, or be required to provide compensation, re-hire workers who were discriminated against or change practices.

Similar legislation has been proposed at the statewide level in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey, but, has not passed. Also, similar laws are on the books in several states including Connecticut and California. This is a significant expansion of rights for New York City employees as accommodations for pregnant women are not provided by federal law. Of course, pregnant workers may become disabled, in which case, they are entitled to protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The new law will take effect on 30th January, 2014.


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