Outten & Golden attorneys have extensive experience counseling and representing employees who have faced discrimination at work because of their pregnancy. Our Family Responsibilities Discrimination Practice Group recently published a Know Your Rights guide on pregnancy discrimination. Outten & Golden attorneys also jointly staff the @email legal clinic with the non-profit organization A Better Balance. The clinic provides free consultations for low-income New Yorkers facing discrimination at work because of their pregnancy or family responsibilities.
Pregnancy discrimination is a form of sex discrimination. An employer cannot fire, refuse to hire, or take other adverse action against an employee because the employee is pregnant or may become pregnant.
Federal, state, and city laws prohibit discrimination based on stereotypical presumptions about what pregnant women can and cannot do. For example, an employer cannot refuse to hire a job applicant because she is pregnant or intends to become pregnant. Nor can an employer require that a pregnant employee take a leave of absence, move into a back office position, or work on a less competitive or challenging track because of her pregnancy, if the employee is otherwise able to perform her job. Seemingly benevolent stereotypes about pregnant women are discriminatory when they lead to differential treatment and adverse employment action against employees who are capable of performing their jobs.
Employers must apply their usual policies for workers with temporary health disabilities to pregnant employees. In some circumstances, employers may be required to provide pregnant employees with a reasonable accommodation, if they cannot perform certain parts of their jobs due to their pregnancy.