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What is pregnancy discrimination in New York?


Despite the many challenges that pregnancy presents, pregnant workers still go about their lives and report to work on a daily basis. While many people, including New Yorkers, may find this commendable, some employers either frown on this practice or disallow it altogether, either through fear that it will lead to higher costs or out of some other bias. This, of course, is an affront to the employee rights of female workers. There is such a thing as pregnancy discrimination, which protects them from such treatment.

New Yorkers are more likely familiar with other types of employment discrimination like gender discrimination, age, religion, sex and race discrimination. Pregnancy discrimination entails treating a female worker disparagingly because of her pregnancy and other conditions associated with childbearing. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act protects pregnant workers from discrimination, not just in employment, but in hiring, promotions, insurance and benefits, firing, job assignments and other conditions and terms of the employment.

This does not necessarily mean that if a female worker is pregnant, she must still be given the exact same workload. This can be especially problematic when the job requires strenuous activity, which is detrimental to the condition of the pregnancy. Instead, according to the PDA, pregnant workers are treated as temporarily disabled employees. Despite enjoying equal treatment as other workers, pregnant workers are allowed the same treatment as other temporarily disabled employees. This includes alternative schedules and light duty.

Besides the PDA, pregnant New Yorkers also enjoy added legal protection and benefits because they are likely covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act and Fair Labor Standards Act. This means that employers are required to give pregnant workers disability leave. If a pregnant worker was deprived of such benefits or discriminated against in any way, she can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Source: EEOC.gov, "Pregnancy Discrimination," accessed on Oct. 6, 2014

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