Is There Any Accommodation I Can Receive Based on My Pregnancy During the Pandemic?

New York City Lawyers Advocating for Employees

COVID-19 has exposed some of the difficulties that expectant parents face as workers. During pregnancy, your immune system is weakened. It is not yet certain how COVID-19 affects pregnancy or baby. Generally, pregnant women face more severe bouts of infectious diseases than do other women. As a pregnant worker, you may be wondering what your rights are during the pandemic. If you are wondering whether there is an accommodation that you can receive based on your pregnancy, you should call Phillips & Associates. Our New York City pregnancy discrimination lawyers may be able to counsel and represent you.

Is There Any Accommodation That I Can Receive Based on My Pregnancy During the Pandemic?

You can ask for a reasonable accommodation based on your pregnancy under local, state, or federal laws. Your employer should not cut your hours or put you on unpaid leave. Instead, you can ask for an accommodation that would allow you to continue working through your pregnancy.

Reasonable accommodations are changes to the work environment or work policies that permit a worker to continue working. They can include avoiding contact with the public, altering the workspace to be isolated, working from home, temporary transfers to other positions, or receiving additional protective equipment. The appropriate accommodation depends on both your job and the employer's needs. For example, if you are an administrative assistant, your employer could give you a reasonable accommodation of working from home and using a work computer and phone to complete your tasks.

The New York City Human Rights Law

The New York City Human Rights Law mandates that employers reasonably accommodate an employee's needs for pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. The employer faces this requirement if it knows or should have known about the pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition. The reasonable accommodation should allow you to perform the essential requisites of the job. However, your employer does not need to provide accommodation if it would present an undue hardship in the conduct of its business. You can ask for accommodation under the city law regardless of whether your pregnancy or medical condition is disabling.

Under the city law, if your employer learns that you need an accommodation for pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, it should engage with you in a cooperative dialogue. The cooperative dialogue should be ongoing until you reach a conclusion about a reasonable accommodation, or the employer reasonably concludes that no accommodation is available that would not present an undue hardship, or no accommodation exists that would allow you to perform the essential requisites of the job.

Your employer is only allowed to ask for medical documentation in the course of this process if you are asking for time away from work other than a presumptive period of 6-8 weeks following childbirth, and it can only do this if it asks for verification from other employees asking for leave. The employer can also ask for medical documentation related to the pregnancy if you are asking to work from home either intermittently or on a long-term basis during COVID-19.

State Law

The New York State Human Rights Law also expressly requires your employer to provide a reasonable accommodation for any pregnancy-related condition. If the reasonable accommodation is leave due to pregnancy or a pregnancy-related condition, you are entitled to return. Your employer cannot require you to stay on leave until you give birth, and it needs to hold your job for as long as it would for an employee who took leave for a different reason.

Federal Law

Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, your employer must provide you with a reasonable accommodation if it has at least 15 employees and has provided similar accommodations to employees who suffered from temporary disabilities for another reason. Additionally, you may be able to obtain a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA requires employers with at least 15 employees to provide employees disabled by pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions with reasonable accommodations, unless to do so would present an undue hardship.

Contact Our Experienced Pregnancy Discrimination Attorneys

If you were not granted an accommodation for your pregnancy, one of our experienced trial attorneys at Phillips & Associates may be able to represent you. We assist clients in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx, and Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties, as well as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Florida. Call us at (866) 229-9441 or complete our online form.

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