Each year, millions of women become pregnant, many of which are active in the workforce; as much as two-thirds of working women have children at home under the age of 18. While this is a common occurrence, unfortunately, pregnancy stereotypes are pervasive in the workplace and can play a part in how that employee will be treated. However, as a working mother or mother-to-be, know that you have rights and do not have to be subjected to demeaning behaviors. If you have faced discrimination as a working mother or during your pregnancy, Brown Kwon & Lam is here to fight for your rights.
NYC Pregnancy Laws – Pregnancy Discrimination
As of January 2016, New York state law now encompasses explicit provisions protecting the rights of pregnant workers for any pregnancy-related conditions. These accommodations include:
- Breaks to rest
- Modified work schedules
- Leave for related medical needs
- Light-duty assignments
- Transfers from hazardous duty
The rules of The New York State Human Rights Law and The New York City Human Rights Law both offer accommodations to pregnant workers. However, under the New York City Human Rights Law, you do not have to have a pregnancy-related disability to be afforded protection.
As an employee in the state of New York and under The New York City Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, you must know that if you work for an employer with more than four employees, it is illegal for them to fire you, change the terms, conditions, and privileges of your employment because you are pregnant or recently gave birth. In addition, it is discriminatory for an employer to refuse to hire or promote an applicant because she is pregnant. Doing so is illegal and as a victim, you deserve compensation.
The laws in New York continue to evolve surrounding pregnancy discrimination. That is why if you are employed in New York City or the surrounding regions and have been discriminated against because you are pregnant or recently gave birth, the attorneys of Brown Kwon & Lam are here for you to explore all legal options.
As a Working Mother, You Have Rights Under Federal Law.
Under both state and federal laws, you as a working mom have rights. Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), “discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions constitutes unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII. Women affected by pregnancy or related conditions must be treated in the same manner as other applicants or employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work.” Know that PDA only covers employers with 15 or more employees.
However, if your employer does not pay, give job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, fringe benefits, firing, and any other term or condition of employment, as they would another employee, pregnancy discrimination is likely taking place.
In addition, under the law, you are permitted to apply for temporary disability if, as a result of your pregnancy, you develop an illness or injury, such as gestational diabetes, which requires you to take additional time for proper care.
Further, any health insurance provided by an employer must cover expenses for pregnancy-related conditions on the same basis as expenses for other medical conditions. However, insurance coverage for expenses arising from abortion is not required, except where the life of the mother is endangered or medical complications arise from an abortion.
In addition to PDA, you as a pregnant employee have protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). So long as your employer has 15 or more employees, they cannot discriminate against workers with disabilities, including workers with pregnancy-related disabilities.
If you are not being treated fairly, do not be afraid to speak up and out against the discriminatory behavior.
Paid Family Leave – Pregnancy Discrimination & Pregnancy Leave
In 2016, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the nation’s strongest and most comprehensive Paid Family Leave policy. In addition, as of January 2018, most New York state employees who work for private employers are eligible to take Paid Family Leave. If you are a public employee, you may be offered Paid Family Leave. You must check with your employer for details.
Under New York’s Paid Family Leave, you are given job-protected, paid time off to:
- Bond with your newborn, foster child, or adopted child
- Care for a close relative with a serious medical condition
- Assist family members when a relative is deployed abroad on active military service
In addition, the law allows you to continue your health insurance while on leave, and you are guaranteed your job or a comparable position when your leave ends and you return to work. However, if you pay into the cost of your health insurance, you are required to continue to do so even while on leave.
As a pregnant or new mom, you also may have leave rights under The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). For example, if an employee cannot work because of a high-risk pregnancy or complications from birth, FMLA would require the employer to grant twelve weeks of unpaid leave, while holding the individual’s job for her return. In addition, medical insurance would be continued as she would be continuing to pay into the employee plan. Depending on the company, the employee may also be eligible for pregnancy disability insurance for other medical continues during that 12-week period.
To be covered for federal FMLA leave, the employer must have at least 50 employees. New York’s FMLA covers companies where there are only four employees. A pregnancy discrimination and employee rights attorney can explain which is more beneficial for the employee to attain.
Breastfeeding has been a contentious topic for many across the nation in regards to public exposure. However, under New York City pregnancy law, it is illegal for your employer to treat you unfairly because you are currently breastfeeding. In addition, the law states that nursing mothers must be given breaks while at work:
- For up to three years following childbirth. You are permitted reasonable unpaid break time or to use paid break time or meal time each day, so that you can express breast milk.
- In a room or another location, in close proximity to your work area, where you can express breast milk in private.
- And your employer may not discriminate against you based on your decision to do so.
If your employer does not comply with the laws or is acting discriminatory, you may have a claim.
Damages in NYC Pregnancy Discrimination
If you have been subjected to pregnancy discrimination in New York or New York City, you may be awarded damages. These include:
- Back pay
- Compensatory pay
- Punitive damages
- Attorney fees and related court costs
NYC Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyers Are Here For You
As a working mom or mother to be, you have rights, just like anyone else. If your employer is not treating you fairly or is being discriminatory against you, you need to speak out. At Brown Kwon & Lam, we will fight for your rights, and those of your family, to ensure you are treated fairly and with respect. Contact us today for a consultation.