Pregnant women and new mothers may soon enjoy greater protections against workplace discrimination in New York City. On September 24, 2013, the City Council amended the New York City Human Rights Law, already one of the most expansive anti-discrimination laws in the country, to protect women against pregnancy-related employment discrimination.
The amendment, which passed unanimously, requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant women and those who suffer conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth. According to the law, such reasonable accommodations "may include bathroom breaks, leave for a period of disability arising from childbirth, breaks to facilitate increased water intake, periodic rest for those who stand for long periods of time, and assistance with manual labor, among other things."
The law requires employers to offer reasonable accommodations to women during pregnancy and during a 16-week postpartum period. To be eligible for an accommodation, expecting and new mothers must provide a note from a healthcare provider explaining the accommodation requested and why it is necessary.
Although other state, local, and federal laws also prohibit employment discrimination against pregnant women, New York City's new protections are noteworthy because few other similar laws explicitly require reasonable accommodations for pregnancy and childbirth-related complications.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to sign the amendment into law soon. When signed, it will become effective immediately.