What if I'm Pregnant and Afraid to Come to Work During the Pandemic Because of My Baby?
The coronavirus pandemic has presented substantial challenges for employers and employees alike. Many employers have had to change their workplaces or provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees. Pregnant women are at higher risk of hospitalization and severe illness from COVID-19 than are women of the same age who are not pregnant. In most cases, babies do not get sick; the virus rarely crosses from the mother to the baby in utero. However, there are still questions surrounding the transmission of COVID-19. If you are pregnant and afraid to come to work during the pandemic because of your baby, your fears are justified. You should consult the New York City pregnancy discrimination lawyers at Phillips & Associates.What if I'm Pregnant and Afraid to Come to Work During the Pandemic Because of My Baby?
Respiratory viruses like COVID-19 present a substantial threat to pregnant women. When the uterus grows, it shoves up against the diaphragm and reduces lung capacity. Pregnancy also lowers a woman’s immune defenses to protect the baby. Pregnant women are more vulnerable to complications from infections as a result. Accordingly, if you are pregnant, you may be afraid to come to work during the pandemic because of the baby.
Federal, state, and local laws prohibit employment discrimination. The federal law that prohibits employment discrimination based on pregnancy is the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This law applies to workplaces that have at least 15 employees. Both the New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law prohibit pregnancy discrimination as well. Under the state and city laws, pregnant women are entitled to reasonable accommodations.Reasonable Accommodations for Pregnancy
Reasonable accommodations are changes to work policies or the work environment that would allow an employee to do his or her job. You are entitled to a reasonable accommodation for any pregnancy-related condition under New York law. Reasonable accommodations may include an altered work schedule, leave for medical needs, transfers away from dangerous tasks, light-duty assignments, and an increased number of breaks to rest or drink water. If you are pregnant and worried about catching COVID-19 in the workplace, you might be able to get a reasonable accommodation to work from home. You should be aware that your employer is not required to provide you with the precise accommodation that you request.
Another reasonable accommodation might be unpaid leave. If you take a pregnancy-related leave under state law, you are entitled to come back. Your employer is not allowed to ask you to stay on leave until you give birth, and your job should be held for as long as it would be held for an employee who took leave for a different reason.
Under the city law, employers with four or more employees must provide reasonable accommodations to employees related to their pregnancies, childbirths, and associated medical conditions so that they can keep working or come back to work promptly while maintaining a healthy pregnancy. Reasonable accommodations could include time off to recover from childbirth, light duty, a private space, breaks for expressing breast milk, alterations to work environments, or help with physically demanding tasks.
Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, if you are not able to do your job due to a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth, your employer should treat you in the same way that it treats other employees with temporary disabilities. Reasonable accommodations could include light duty, leave, or alternative assignments; the primary question is whether the employer provides these kinds of accommodations for other employees who suffer from temporary disabilities.Retaliation
The anti-discrimination laws that provide protection for pregnant women include provisions that forbid retaliation against women who request reasonable accommodations. You should not face a punitive response to your request for a pregnancy accommodation during the pandemic. If you do, you may have grounds to sue for pregnancy discrimination and retaliation.Contact Our Experienced Pregnancy Discrimination Attorneys
If you are pregnant and afraid to go to work during the pandemic, one of our experienced trial attorneys at Phillips & Associates may be able to represent you. We assist workers in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx, and Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties, as well as Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Florida. Call us at (833) 529-3476 or complete our online form.