On Oct. 2, 2013, Mayor Bloomberg signed a bill amending the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) to prohibit employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition. While the NYCHRL already prohibits discrimination based on gender and disability, the new law is significant because it expands coverage to all pregnant employees regardless of whether a pregnant employee's condition would qualify as a disability under federal, state or city law.
The new law, which becomes effective on January 30, 2014, requires employers to reasonably accommodate an employee’s needs based on her pregnancy and related conditions unless the employer can prove doing so would constitute an undue hardship. Such a reasonable accommodation may 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 others.
Notably, the new law requires employers to provide a written notice to individuals hired on or after Jan. 30, 2014 (at the commencement of their employment) and to existing employees (no later than May 30, 2014) of the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and related conditions. The New York City Commission on Human Rights now has published the form of notice, as an information card, in various languages for employers to utilize. The information card can be found at http://www1.nyc.gov/site/cchr/media/cards/pregnancy-employment-rights.page.
The new law suggests, but does not require, posting the notice in a conspicuous place, e.g. where other anti-discrimination notices are posted. Employers also should consider adding a pregnancy accommodation policy that mirrors the new law to their employment policies for New York City employees.