New York City employers are clearly and explicitly on notice that they have a legal obligation to accommodate pregnant workers. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (“PWFA”) went into effect Jan. 30, 2014. Even though the New York City Human Rights Law already required pregnancy be accommodated the same way a disability would be, pregnant women were still being removed from their positions, forced to take unpaid leave, or terminated altogether when they requested assistance.
These provisions promise to be particularly helpful to the women in low-wage service jobs, who are especially likely to need an accommodation, yet least likely to receive it. Additionally, the law will provide crucial protections for women working in non-traditional jobs such as construction, policing or firefighting. We have compiled a Fact Sheet to assist workers in obtaining these rights.
The new law specifies some of the accommodations a pregnant worker might be entitled to: bathroom breaks, breaks to facilitate increased water intake, periodic rest for those whose jobs require them to stand for long periods of time, assistance with manual labor, and leave in the wake of employee’s childbirth. “A pregnant woman should note that this list is not intended to be exhaustive however, since the adjustment needed will be specific to the pregnant worker’s needs and her job duties,” stated Michelle Caiola, Litigation Director at Legal Momentum. “The accommodation process may be interactive between the employer and employee if a simple solution is not immediately available,” she added.
Legal Momentum has long advocated for pregnancy-related employment protections on the federal, state, and city level—including this very measure—and has legally represented women denied accommodations and forced onto unpaid leave. Our commitment to eradicating this type of discrimination in the future continues unabated.
About Legal Momentum
Legal Momentum is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1970 to advance the rights of women by using the power of the law and creating innovative public policy in three broad areas: economic justice, freedom from gender-based violence and equality under the law. For more information visit www.legalmomentum.org.