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What are Pregnant Women’s Employment Rights During A Pandemic?

July 8th, 2020 Stephanie Jackson

Pregnant Women Working During PandemicPregnant women around the world are asking, “What are my employment rights during a pandemic?” Pregnant women’s immune systems are already under an overwhelming amount of stress, and little is known about the impacts of Covid-19 on pregnant women or their unborn children. To alleviate some risk, many doctors advise pregnant women to try to work from home. So, is an employer legally required to give a pregnant woman accommodations in the workplace? The short answer is yes, but you must approach your employer and ask directly about accommodations. Pregnant women could fall under three federal laws: the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Americans With Disabilities Act, and the Family Medical Leave Act, as well as state laws such as the New York State Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

Federal Laws Protecting Pregnant Workers

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act ensures that, if your employer has given similar accommodations to non-pregnant employees and you work for a company that employs 15 or more people, your employer must give pregnant women workplace accommodations. In the context of the pandemic, this requirement could prove difficult because you would have to find another immunocompromised employee who received accommodations.

 The Americans with Disabilities Act ensures that, if you have an underlying condition, your employer must provide reasonable accommodations unless it will cause “undue hardship” on the company. Underlying conditions do not  include pregnancy, but it does include gestational diabetes and other ailments that may be influenced by the pregnancy. You must alert your employer to your underlying condition and ask them directly for accommodations in order to receive them. An employer does not have to offer you accommodations if you don’t make it known you need them. Undue hardship is defined as something that is extremely difficult or expensive.

 Pregnant employees may be covered under the Family Medical Leave Act if they have other children and no access to childcare. The Family Medical Leave Act allows you 12 weeks of leave; however, these are the only weeks you receive to take care of your newborn later on as well. The Coronavirus Family First Act may provide some pregnant women with a similar amount of leave.  

New York Laws Protecting Pregnant Employees

The New York State pregnant workers fairness act states if your employer has four or more employees, and you need a “reasonable accommodation” because of pregnancy or childbirth, your employer must provide it unless it would cause “undue hardship .” Reasonable accommodations include asking for schedule changes, new equipment, or a change in job duties. Working remotely could fall under the broad phrase of change in job duties, if it is not too expensive or difficult for the employer.

 Seek Legal Assistance Today

If you have experienced pregnancy discrimination, seek legal assistance today. The Working Solutions Law Firm, located in New York City, can assist you. Contact us today at (646) 430-7930 to schedule a free case evaluation and receive experienced legal counsel.