Pregnant Workers Fairness Act passes in New York

Following recent concerns that pregnant women suffer job discrimination, the New York City Council has passed a bill modifying the city’s human rights law. This new amended legislation calls for accommodations designed to protect pregnant employees in the city. The bill, signed by Mayor Bloomberg, states employers be required to reasonably allow for a pregnant worker’s needs to be met on the job. These include issues relating to pregnancy, childbirth or medical conditions in job performance. This bill is expected to take effect by the end of January next year.

The delayed time frame supports the notion that employers in the city will begin to implement awareness programs congruent to the new law’s obligations to enhance or improve workers’ existing rights.

The act focuses on providing accommodations considered a necessity for pregnant female workers and includes reasonable time off following childbirth, bathroom breaks while on the job, support for hydration of mothers-to-be, and allowances to take periodic breaks from standing for prolonged periods, along with modifications in performance in manual labor.

While the law permits reasonable allowances, it does not diminish the employee’s commitment to quality job performance. Neither does it limit the employee’s right to express a hardship incurred by an accommodation.

Parameters of the new law require all employers to provide written notice of these changes at the start of hire, as dictated by the Commission of Human Rights. Written notice may consist of any reasonable attempt to provide information for employees under the new act within 120 days of the law’s start date. This can include clear and visible signs posted at the workplace.

Given that female employees assume a key role in propagation of the human species, it is time for such a law to become a reality. All employers and employees in the city of New York should prepare themselves for yet another landmark case against workplace discrimination by protecting our expectant mothers.

Source: 
natlawreview.com, “New York City Extends Human Rights Law to Pregnant Women with ‘Pregnant Workers Fairness Act’” Robert H. Bernstein, Jerrold F. Goldberg, Zachary N. Klein, Michael J. Slocum, Greenberg Traurig, LL, Oct. 11, 2013

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