Effective January 30, 2014, a new statute in New York City requires employers with four or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations to a pregnant employee or an employee recovering from childbirth or a related medical condition if the employee requests an accommodation and the accommodation will allow the employee to perform the essential functions of her job.
Specifically, on October 2, 2013, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed into law the New York City Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, Local Law 78 of 2013 and in the last few months, as part of its obligations under the new law, the New York City Human Rights Commission has released a written notice that employers must provide to:
• All new hires at the start of the employment; and
• All current employees on or before January 30, 2014
The commission’s notice provides examples of reasonable accommodations which include but are not limited to: bathroom breaks, leave for a period of disability arising from childbirth, breaks to facilitate increased water intake, assistance with manual labor, changes to work environment and periodic rest for those who stand for long periods of time. The notice also advises employees of whom to contact in the event the employee believes she has been discriminated against.
Pregnant or childbearing workers whose employers in New York City deny them reasonable accommodations, like employees aggrieved by other discriminatory practices made unlawful by the New York City Human Rights Law, may sue their employers for and may recover, among other remedies, non-capped compensatory damages, punitive damages, and, if they prevail and at the court’s discretion, costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.
If you are an employer and have questions about the new statute or its applicability to you and your company, contact an experienced employment lawyer today.