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September 30, 2013

NYC Council Passes Pregnancy Discrimination Law

On September 24, 2013, the New York City Council passed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (“PWFA”), which amends the New York City Human Rights Law. Significantly, the PWFA will require employers to provide a reasonable accommodation for an employee’s pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. The City Council passed the PWFA unanimously, which means the City Council will likely override any veto by the Mayor. The PWFA is expected to become law in early 2014.

The PWFA will apply to employers who employ at least four people, including independent contractors. For purposes of this law, independent contractors are defined as “carry[ing] out work in furtherance of an employer’s business enterprise who are not themselves employers….”  

The PWFA defines “reasonable accommodation” as an accommodation that can be made without causing an undue hardship on the employer’s business. Examples of reasonable accommodations 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.” Employers do not need to provide accommodations that would create an “undue hardship” on their businesses. Employers bear the burden of establishing undue hardship. 

The PWFA will also require employers to provide written notice to new and existing employees concerning their rights under the PWFA. The New York City Commission on Human Rights is expected to issue details on notice requirements prior to the effective date of the PWFA. 

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If you have any questions regarding the New York City Pregnant Workers Fairness Act please do not hesitate to contact us.