Pregnancy Discrimination Laws in New York
New York employers are prohibited by federal, state, and local laws from engaging in pregnancy-related discrimination. Companies must also comply with statutes regarding leaves of absence for conditions and situations associated with pregnancy. However, many employees either do not understand their rights or have the legal background necessary to enforce them.
If you are facing pregnancy discrimination or have been denied leave, it is critical to consult with a New York pregnancy discrimination lawyer regarding your legal remedies. In addition, you may find it useful to check out an overview of the laws that may apply to your situation.
New York Discrimination Laws Protect Pregnant Employees
Federal law protects you from pregnancy discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. New York state pregnancy laws closely parallel the federal statutes, specifically the New York State Human Rights Law. There is also a New York City pregnancy law that prohibits discrimination, which specifically applies to employees within the city.
In general, it is unlawful for your employer to treat you differently on account of pregnancy. Examples of discriminatory conduct may include:
- Refusing to hire;
- Denying you a promotion;
- Issuing a pay cut;
- Modifying work assignments;
- Engaging in harassment or intimidation; or,
- Terminating you because of pregnancy.
You should note that federal law applies to employers who have 15 or more workers. Since the state statute and New York City pregnancy discrimination law pertain to companies with four or more employees, they offer broader protections for pregnant workers.
Leave of Absence for Pregnancy and Related Situations
Though New York pregnancy laws do not include provisions regarding leaves of absence, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows eligible employees to take time off work. To qualify, you must:
- Work for a company that employs 50 or more workers;
- Be employed for your current employer for at least 12 months prior to taking time off; and,
- Have put in at least 1,250 hours before requesting leave.
FMLA guarantees that you can resume your job, in the same or similar position, once you return to work. Under the statute, you can take up to 12 weeks during a 12-month period, but your employer is not required to pay you during this time.
Employer Obligations for Reasonable Accommodation
Laws regarding pregnancy discrimination in New York do require your employer to offer you the same reasonable accommodations as are granted to other employees. However, you do not have the right to preferential treatment where your employer does not make fair allowances to other workers who are restricted because of medical conditions.
Plus, what is considered “reasonable” may vary according to your industry, position, and other employment conditions. You may not be able to work flexible hours at a bank, for instance, because bank hours are set by law. Your employer may not allow you to work from home, if the arrangement would be inappropriate for your work-related tasks. In addition, your employer is not required to offer accommodations that would cause undue hardship for the workplace.
Options for Addressing Pregnancy Discrimination in New York
You have multiple options for enforcing your rights under federal and New York state pregnancy discrimination laws.
- You can seek administrative remedies by filing a claim with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the New York Division of Human Rights. Through this process, you will sit down at a mediation session with your employer and attempt to resolve pregnancy discrimination issues.
- If you live in New York City, you can also file a discrimination claim with the New York City Commission on Human Rights. This process is similar to administrative proceedings at the federal or state level.
- You may file a lawsuit against your employer directly in state court, without first going through the administrative process. If you seek enforcement of your rights at the federal level, you must file with the EEOC before suing your employer in federal court.
Depending on the specifics of your case, you may be able to recover:
- Front pay and back bay;
- The value of lost benefits;
- Attorneys’ fees; and,
- Other filing fees and court costs.
Consult with a New York Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer About Your Situation
New York and federal law protect you from various types of discrimination by your employer, but the process for enforcing your rights can be complicated. Our pregnancy discrimination attorneys at Console Mattiacci Law can assist, so please contact us to schedule a consultation today. You can reach our office by calling 917-779-8250 or checking out our website. We are happy to review your circumstances and explain your legal options.