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Understanding Pregnancy Rights for Employees in New York State

Woman studies New York pregnancy rights | employment discrimination lawyer | Gash & Associates, P.C.

Employees in New York state who become pregnant may worry about how this condition will affect their ability to work. Some may even fear that they could suffer negative consequences if they inform their employer about their pregnancy, such as a demotion or even termination. It’s important to recognize that any employer with more than four employees cannot discriminate against an employee for pregnancy-related reasons. Let’s take a closer look at the legal protections for pregnant employees and what steps to take if you believe you’ve been the victim of employment discrimination.

Protections for Pregnant Employees in New York

New York state has been at the forefront of actively protecting the rights of pregnant employees, particularly within the last few years. In 2018, Governor Andrew Cuomo stated, “Discrimination against those who are pregnant is illegal, and we will hold employers who violate the lawfully accountable.” As of January 2016, laws in New York state provide explicit protections for pregnant workers, including; The right to take occasional breaks for rest or hydration; the right to a modified work schedule; the right to take leave for pregnancy-related medical reasons; the right to perform lighter-duty assignments; and the right to temporarily refrain from performing hazardous duties. Additionally, if a person takes leave due to a pregnancy-related condition, they have the right to return to their job when they are ready to return.

Examples of Employment Discrimination Based on Pregnancy

Unfortunately, employers may view your pregnancy as a liability. In most cases, employers try to disassociate their attempt to demote, fire, or otherwise penalize pregnant employees from the pregnancy itself. That is, they will strive to maintain deniability by claiming that you didn’t receive the promotion because there was a more qualified candidate—not because they didn’t want to give the position to a pregnant person. If you apply for a position while visibly pregnant, an employer may talk about pregnancy posing too much of a scheduling hassle and not invite you back for the next round of interviews. Or, perhaps your employer “forgets” to train you—and only you—on the new software system. All of these hypothetical situations may be grounds for filing an employment discrimination claim against your employer.

Taking Legal Action to Hold Your Employer Accountable

If you suspect that your pregnancy has prompted your employer to discriminate against you in some way, you should speak to a knowledgeable employment discrimination attorney as soon as possible to discuss the situation. Sadly, if you attempt to voice your concerns to your supervisor, they will likely deny that their actions had anything to do with your pregnancy. Instead, speak to a trusted lawyer who can advise you on the best steps to take in order to obtain justice. 


If you believe you’ve been the victim of pregnancy-related employment discrimination in Westchester County, contact Gash & Associates, P.C. at (914) 328-8800 to arrange a free consultation with a skilled attorney today.