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Federal, state, and local laws prohibit pregnancy discrimination. Under federal law, all leave policies are required to treat pregnant employees in the same way that they would treat non-pregnant employees who have a similar ability or inability to work. State and local laws provide more protection to New York employees than federal laws do. Under federal law, an employee needs to prove that she is a member of a protected class, that she asked for an accommodation for her pregnancy, that the employer refused to give it, and also that the employer provided an accommodation to other workers who could not perform their work without accommodations. In 2016, the Protect Women from Pregnancy Discrimination bill went into effect in New York. It provides greater protection than federal law by requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees who are pregnant. The New York City pregnancy discrimination lawyers at Phillips & Associates are ready to help you assert a claim arising from a violation of this law.
The Protect Women from Pregnancy Discrimination Bill
In the past, it was hard to predict whether courts would treat pregnancy as a disability protected under the New York State Human Rights Law. Employers are required to accommodate breastfeeding employees by giving them reasonable unpaid break time or by letting them use paid breaks or mealtimes to pump or express breast milk for a nursing child for up to three years after delivery. As part of the accommodations for breastfeeding women, employers are supposed to provide a private space that is close to the work area where the employee can pump or express milk. However, courts have provided confusing and conflicting decisions with regard to other types of pregnancy-related disabilities.
Importantly, under the Protect Women from Pregnancy Discrimination bill, which was signed in 2015 and is now in effect, the state law has been changed such that "pregnancy-related conditions" are considered disabilities. New York employers are now required to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees with pregnancy-related conditions. It is now unlawful for a New York employer to refuse to give a reasonable accommodation to an employee who requests it based on a known pregnancy-related condition, unless providing that accommodation presents an undue hardship. This is similar to the protection provided to disabled employees under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the New York State Human Rights Law.
What is a pregnancy-related condition? Under the amendment, it includes any medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth that prevent normal bodily functioning or conditions that an employee can demonstrate by providing the results of clinical or laboratory diagnostic techniques that are accepted by the medical community.
If you are seeking a pregnancy-related accommodation under the amended law, you will need to give an employer that requests it any medical information that the employer needs to verify that you have a pregnancy-related condition. Employers are required to conduct a deliberative process to determine whether you need an accommodation and decide whether it is feasible to provide the accommodation. Each case is different, so the process is individualized. Unlike the mandates of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), whether an employer engaged in the interactive process is just one factor to be considered in determining whether there was actually a reasonable accommodation available to address the pregnancy-related disability.
Discuss Your Pregnancy Discrimination Claim with a New York City Lawyer
If you have a pregnancy-related condition, the Protect Women from Pregnancy Discrimination bill may apply to requests you make of your employers. At Phillips & Associates, our experienced New York City pregnancy discrimination attorneys provide tenacious legal representation. We also can assist employees who need a sexual harassment lawyer or assistance in fighting other forms of workplace misconduct. Contact us at (866) 229-9441 or use our online form to schedule a free consultation. We fight employer misconduct in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island Long Island and Westchester.