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What is Considered Pregnancy Discrimination?

What is Considered Pregnancy Discrimination in New York?

Any adverse employment action taken because of your pregnancy, childbirth, or associated condition may be considered pregnancy discrimination in New York City. Adverse employment actions could include termination, failure to hire, failure to promote, demotion, harassment, and pay disparities. Generally, state and local laws provide broader protection against pregnancy discrimination than federal law. However, an experienced attorney must analyze every situation on a case-by-case basis. What courts consider pregnancy discrimination may depend on the application of subtly different laws to your particular situation. The laws prohibiting pregnancy discrimination are the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the New York State Human Rights Law, or the New York City Human Rights Law. At Phillips & Associates, our New York City pregnancy discrimination lawyers may be able to represent you in your lawsuit. Many of our lawyers are award-winning. Among us are members of the prestigious Million Dollar Advocates Forum, which is restricted to those lawyers that have earned million-dollar or multimillion-dollar lawsuits or settlements. We offer free consultations.

Understanding how important your case is to you, we work hard to gather the evidence to establish pregnancy discrimination. It is rare to obtain direct evidence of pregnancy discrimination. Direct evidence exists when an employer makes an admission that it acted because of your pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition. Most employers know not to admit bias lest they be sued for damages. However, there are instances in which they may make admissions, or near-admissions, that termination or failure to promote was due to pregnancy. Additionally, we may be able to establish your case with sufficient circumstantial evidence of pregnancy discrimination.

Your boss’ failure to provide a reasonable accommodation could be considered pregnancy discrimination. However, it doesn’t need to accommodate you if it would cause the company an undue hardship. Depending on the law the court applies, and the specific situation, reasonable accommodations for pregnancy conditions or pregnancy could include:

  • Rest or water breaks
  • Leave for medical reasons
  • Light duty
  • Transfers away from hazardous tasks or materials
  • Modification of your work schedule.

New York State Human Rights Law

The New York State Human Rights Law prohibits pregnancy discrimination in workplaces of every size. Many different situations could count as pregnancy discrimination, even if you are an independent contractor rather than an employee. Discrimination may involve:

  • Termination
  • Failure to promote
  • Demotion
  • Pay disparity
  • Forced leave
  • Harassment

For example, it may be considered pregnancy discrimination if:

  • You are denied a job due to your pregnancy.
  • A company terminated your work as a contractor because it was uncomfortable with your pregnancy starting to show.
  • You were passed over for a scheduled promotion because you asked for a reasonable accommodation for preeclampsia in the form of remote work.
  • You were denied a reasonable accommodation in the form of more frequent water breaks as your doctor required.
  • You were paid less because you acknowledged you were pregnant and would need leave for childbirth.
  • You requested leave under the Paid Family Leave Law or other benefits to which you’re entitled, but you were denied and then “written up” for a lateness from 3 months earlier.

Pregnancy Discrimination Under City Law

Similarly, under the New York City Human Rights Law, any adverse action taken by your employer due to your pregnancy, childbirth, or a related condition may be considered pregnancy discrimination. Importantly, the city law applies to those employers who have at least 4 employees. It provides broad protection to pregnant workers.

For example, it may be considered pregnancy discrimination under city law if your employer:

  • Terminated you when you asked for a reasonable accommodation for your pubic symphysis.
  • Failed to promote you because you needed more frequent breaks due to fatigue from pregnancy.
  • Demoted you because you complained to HR about pregnancy harassment by your coworkers and supervisor.
  • Your employer failed to allow you a room to express milk and time to do it.

Pregnancy Discrimination Under Federal Law

Under the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the court may consider harmful conduct by an employer based on your pregnancy discrimination if your employer has at least 15 employees. You may have a claim, for instance, if:

  • You worked for a multinational corporation with 200 employees, and it demoted you because you let your manager know you were pregnant.
  • You worked for a midsize accounting firm and asked to work remotely while you were on bed rest during your pregnancy, but the firm wouldn’t provide the accommodation, even though it allowed workers with pneumonia or COVID-19 to work remotely.
  • You were a server at a high-end restaurant with thirty employees, and the manager fired you when you were five months pregnant because you began to show your pregnancy, and he believed patrons were not reacting well to your change.

Pregnancy harassment is a type of discrimination prohibited in New York City. While state and local laws set forth relaxed standards for evaluating whether hostile work environment harassment exists, federal law maintains stringent standards. You will only be able to obtain damages for pregnancy harassment if it was severe or pervasive and thereby caused your workplace to be hostile or abusive.

Hire a Pregnancy Discrimination Law Firm

If you’re wondering what actions are considered pregnancy discrimination in New York City workplaces, you should give our lawyers a call. At Phillips & Associates, we have numerous past successes and a strong understanding of how courts are likely to evaluate a plaintiff’s claims. Our attorneys work up every case thoroughly to make sure our clients get the best shot in their pregnancy discrimination claims. We represent clients in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx, Nassau County, or Suffolk County. Complete our online form or call us at (833) 529-3476 or for a free consultation. 

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"Phillips & Associates did a wonderful job. I would recommend Brittany Stevens." Angel
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"Employment dispute I had a dispute with my former employer, Jesse Weinstein was patient and thorough with my case. He covered every angle and was able to help me with my dispute. I would recommend Jesse Weinstein and Phillips and Associates in the future to anyone." Margaret
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"Hands down the best law firm for labor disputes in NYC. Being in the restaurant industry for more than 30 years I can say that this law firm is the number one choice for workers in the restaurant business that need to sue their company for wrongful termination. A special compliment to my lawyer Brittany Stevens. An amazing person and well prepared experienced lawyer. She was professional and empathetic to my case and worked in a time appropriate manner. She never miss a phone call at any hour of the day. Brittany and her team helped me with what I needed, when I needed it. I want to thank them all (especially Brittany), for a job well done." Massimo
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"Jesse Weinstein handled my discrimination case. He was extremely patient and understanding throughout the process and remained professional and consistent even when I could not. I really felt like he had my back and I didn't have to worry. His expertise, combined with the experience of the Firm, resulted in the best possible outcome of my case. Although I wouldn't wish what I went through on anyone, things do and always will happen and I would highly recommend Jesse and this Firm to anyone facing discrimination or other workplace issues." Karen
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