Archive for January 2014

NYC LAW EXPANDED TO REQUIRE REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS FOR PREGNANT EMPLOYEES

January 16, 2014

On October 2, 2013, Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed a bill amending the New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”) to require most New York City employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees.  The new law, which takes effect on January 30, 2014, prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or a related condition, unless the employer can prove that the accommodation would cause an undue hardship.  Image

While the federal American with Disabilities Act and the New York State Human Rights Law mandate that employers accommodate employees with pregnancy-related disabilities, the new NYCHRL expands such coverage to include all pregnant employees regardless of whether the pregnant employee’s condition qualifies as a disability.

A.    Covered Employees
The new NYCHRL applies to New York City employers (including employment agencies) with ONLY four or more employees (including independent contractors who are not themselves employers).

B.    Accommodations
A few examples of reasonable accommodations include:

     *   bathroom breaks
     *   breaks to facilitate increased water intake
     *   periodic rest if the employee stands for long periods of time
     *   assistance with manual labor
     *  changes to the employee’s work environment
     *   unpaid medical leave
C.    Exceptions
An employer need not provide such accommodations to a pregnant employee if it proves that the accommodation would cause an “undue hardship.”  Factors to be considered in determining an “undue hardship” include:
        (i) the nature and costs of the accommodation;
        (ii) financial resources of the facility;
        (iii) number of employees; and
        (iv) financial resources of the employer.

D.    Notice Requirement 
The new NYCHRL mandates that employers provide written notices to new employees upon hire (starting on January 30, 2014) and to existing employees by May 30, 2014 of their rights under the new pregnancy accommodation amendment.  The notice, which can be accessed and downloaded HERE, must be conspicuously posted in the workplace.E.    Enforcement
An employee alleging a violation of the new NYCHRL may either file a complaint with the NYC Commission on Human Rights or bring a civil action in court (or other tribunal).

New York City employers falling within the new NYCHRL should review their employee handbook and revise it accordingly to ensure compliance with this new law.  If you do not have an employee handbook, we strongly suggest that you do.

    If you need any assistance with respect such matters, we would be glad to assist you.  

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