When Should I Tell my Employer I'm Pregnant?

When Should I Disclose Pregnancy to My Employer?

There is no hard deadline by which you need to disclose pregnancy to your employer in New York City unless you need leave for childbirth. Although federal, state, and local laws prohibit pregnancy discrimination, some employers harbor bias and stereotypes about pregnant workers’ abilities, career paths, and ambitions. Your employer should not make assumptions about your capacity for work because you disclose your pregnancy or automatically place you on leave or change the terms and conditions of your employer. Additionally, a prospective employer should not deny you a job because you are pregnant. While there are no set deadlines for telling your employer about your pregnancy, you will need to ask for leave 30 days before needing the leave for childbirth. You’ll also need to disclose 30 days ahead if you’re taking New York Paid Family Leave or leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. If you were treated adversely because of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, you should talk to our firm about whether you can sue for damages. At Phillips & Associates, our seasoned New York City pregnancy discrimination attorneys represent pregnant women working in a wide range of industries.

You may be concerned about disclosing to your boss because you’ve heard how they have talked about other pregnant employees or mothers. You shouldn’t feel pressured to reveal early in your pregnancy. However, it is essential to give your employer notice so that it can plan for your absence. Your pregnancy may be visible; it is wise to provide information if you need a reasonable accommodation or to assert other beneficial rights available to you under federal, state, or local laws.

Pregnancy Discrimination

Your employer should not take an adverse employment action against you because you are pregnant. Pregnancy discrimination is forbidden under federal Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the New York State Human Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law. If you work for a large employer with at least 50 employees and meet other criteria, you may be eligible for job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Our lawyers may be able to show your employer is discriminating if it takes any of the following employment actions based on your disclosure of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions:

  • Fails to hire you
  • Termination
  • Reassigns you to a lower-paying or less prestigious position
  • Pays you differently or denies you fringe benefits
  • Fails to provide a reasonable accommodation
  • Harassment

Disclosing Pregnancy to Your Employer for Protection Under Federal Law

You should let your employer know about your pregnancy when you’re ready. You are protected against an adverse employment action under the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This law applies to employers that have at least 15 employees.

Under federal law, if your employer didn’t know you were pregnant, our lawyers will not be able to establish intentional pregnancy discrimination in court. Therefore, disclosing your pregnancy to your employer may become a critical issue if your employer takes an adverse action against you that you find suspicious. You may wish to talk to us if you’re concerned, based on past behavior, that you could be discriminated against for the disclosure. For example, you may have a claim under federal law if:

  • You announced you were pregnant when you got through the third trimester, and a week later, you were passed over for a promotion at the accounting firm where you work.
  • You are a secretary who told your employer you needed a reasonable accommodation because you were ordered on bed rest for preeclampsia.
  • You disclosed and then had a complication during your pregnancy that required you to be out of the office for a few days, but your attendance record was the same or better than your coworkers’.
  • Your manager terminated you because of “attendance issues” after you disclosed in order to obtain a reasonable accommodation, even though your record has been solid. It may be appropriate to conclude that you were terminated due to your manager’s stereotypical beliefs about pregnant workers rather than your attendance.

It is possible for your employer to become aware of your pregnancy, not through your disclosure, but instead some other means such as the office grapevine or visible changes to your midsection. However, whether there are visible signs of pregnancy can vary dramatically. Some women show earlier than others; some don’t show at all. If you disclose your pregnancy to your employer, you might more readily show discrimination if you’re fired or passed over promotion soon after your employer learns of the pregnancy. However, if your pregnancy was apparent for some other reason, you may still have protection.

You may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation for your pregnancy if your employer provides accommodation to those workers who are temporarily disabled for other reasons.

Disclosing Pregnancy to Your Employer for Protection Under State Law

You are protected against discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition if you apply to work for or already work for an employer under the New York State Human Rights Law. Additionally, you can be protected against pregnancy discrimination under this law if you are an independent contractor, consultant, contractor, subcontractor, or vendor offering services under a workplace contract.

You may be entitled to reasonable accommodations for your pregnancy if providing an accommodation would not pose an undue hardship for your employer. However, your New York employer cannot require you to take leave under state law due to your pregnancy once you disclose your pregnancy unless your pregnancy prevents you from performing essential job activities.

Additionally, you’ll need to disclose your pregnancy 30 days before taking leave due to childbirth to take leave under the Paid Family Leave Law. Job-protected leave is allowed under this law for both mothers and fathers, including same-sex parents, to bond with a newborn within the first 12 months of a child’s birth. You will also need to disclose your pregnancy to your employer if you want benefits for up to 26 weeks under the state Temporary Disability Benefits Law if you’re not able to work due to being disabled by childbirth. To apply for short-term disability for maternity leave, you’ll need to submit a form within thirty days of your inability to work due to the disability.

Your employer shouldn’t discriminate or retaliate against you for disclosing your pregnancy or childbirth or pregnancy-related disability to exercise your rights under these laws.

Disclosing Pregnancy to Your Employer for Protection Under City Law

The New York City Human Rights Law protects employees in workplaces that have at least 4 employees. An employer should not refuse to hire you or change the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment due to your pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.

If your employer learns, through your disclosure or indirectly, that you require an accommodation because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a related condition, it should cooperatively dialogue with you under the city law. If you haven’t asked for an accommodation, the employer still has an affirmative duty to start the cooperative dialogue if:

  • It knows that your work performance has been affected or could lead to an adverse employment action
  • It has reasonable grounds to think your issue is related to pregnancy, childbirth or a related condition.

Your employer can only ask for medical documentation related to your pregnancy if you ask for time away from your job other than the presumptive 6-8 weeks allowed after childbirth for recovery. It can only do so if it asks for verification from other employees who ask for leave for medical conditions not related to pregnancy or childbirth. Your employer can also ask for documentation if you’re asking to work from home. If your employer doesn’t think the documentation you’ve given is enough, it can ask for more from you or ask you for permission to speak with your provider.

Consult Our Attorneys About Pregnancy Discrimination After Disclosure to Your Boss

If you’re wondering when you should disclose pregnancy to your employer in New York City, you should consult our experienced law firm. The seasoned trial lawyers of Phillips & Associates have won significant settlements and verdicts in discrimination cases filed on behalf of pregnant workers and other protected groups. We represent clients in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx, Nassau County, or Suffolk County. Call us at (866) 229-9441 or complete our online form for a free consultation.

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