Can My Employer Fire Me Due to the Pandemic Just Because I'm Pregnant?

Employment Discrimination Lawyers Based in New York City

Bryan Arce

Pregnancy can be an exciting time for expectant mothers. Unfortunately, some managers and supervisors carry negative stereotypes about pregnant women or fail to treat pregnant workers as they would treat other employees. COVID-19 presents particularly challenging circumstances for businesses. However, existing employment discrimination laws remain firmly in place during the pandemic. Employers need to make careful decisions to preserve employee safety and health, but this should not mean termination of those employees who are most vulnerable. If you are pregnant and concerned about whether your employer can fire you due to the pandemic, you should call the seasoned New York City pregnancy discrimination lawyers at Phillips & Associates. We understand that you may be experiencing anxiety as a pregnant worker during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your employer should engage with you to figure out whether there is a reasonable accommodation for your pregnancy, rather than making assumptions about your ability to work.

Can My Employer Fire Me Due to the Pandemic Just Because I'm Pregnant?

The short answer to this question is no. The pandemic poses increased risks for pregnant women and their babies. Even so, your employer cannot take your pregnancy into account when making employment decisions. Pregnancy discrimination remains illegal. Your employer cannot fire you due to the pandemic just because you are pregnant, even though the pandemic poses increased risks of severe illness for pregnant women. If your employer does this, you may be able to recover damages arising out of the wrongful termination.

Federal, state, and local laws prohibit pregnancy discrimination; discrimination can include any adverse employment action, including demotion or termination. The federal law prohibiting pregnancy discrimination is the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This law applies to businesses that have at least 15 employees. The state law prohibiting pregnancy discrimination is the New York State Human Rights Law. It applies to employers of any size in the state. The local law that prohibits pregnancy discrimination is the New York City Human Rights Law, which applies to businesses with at least four employees. Under the city law , employers must reasonably accommodate the needs of an employee for pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. It does not matter whether your pregnancy or pregnancy-related condition qualifies as a disability.

Reasonable Accommodations

While your employer cannot terminate you due to your pregnancy, your employer may offer you a reasonable accommodation for your pregnancy during the pandemic. A reasonable accommodation is an alteration to a work environment, work schedule, or policy that would allow you to perform your job. A reasonable accommodation should be provided for your pregnancy, unless providing it would cause your employer to suffer an undue hardship.

Your employer should engage with you in a good-faith interactive process to determine whether it can provide a reasonable accommodation for your pregnancy during the pandemic. For example, your employer may ask you to work from home during the pandemic to accommodate your pregnancy. You should not face retaliation for requesting, or receiving, a reasonable accommodation.

Alternatively, your employer might offer you leave as a reasonable accommodation for your pregnancy. The New York Paid Family Leave Law may also allow you to obtain pay during your leave if you need to take the leave due to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19.

Failing to provide a reasonable accommodation for a pregnancy counts as pregnancy discrimination in New York City. You may be able to bring a lawsuit to pursue damages.

Contact Our Pregnancy Discrimination Attorneys

It can be devastating to lose your job and source of income when you are pregnant. Pregnancy involves substantial expenses, as does a new baby. If your employer terminated you during the pandemic simply because you were pregnant, the 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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