Pregnancy Discrimination Claims


think my employer is discriminating against me because I am pregnant.


What is pregnancy discrimination and does New York Human Rights Law cover it?


Pregnancy discrimination occurs when an employer treats a pregnant employee less favorably than other employees with non-pregnancy-related disabilities. The New York Human Rights Law prohibits this type of discrimination.


I think I am being impacted or treated differently because of my pregnancy. How do I prove it?


In order to show that you are being discriminated against due to a pregnancy, you must provide proof that you were treated in a manner less favorable than any other employee expecting to experience a prolonged disability.


I just found out that I’m pregnant, should I tell my employer?


The decision to tell your employer is entirely up to you. Although you are not obligated to provide your employer with news of your pregnancy, it may be beneficial to let them know in case you need special accommodations. Be assured that your employer cannot fire you simply because you are pregnant. The New York Human Rights Law prohibits this type of discrimination based on sex.


Can my employer fire me because I may become pregnant?


Your employer cannot fire you because you may become pregnant. The New York Human Rights Law prohibits this type of discrimination based on sex.


Can I ask my employer to make accommodations for me on account of my pregnancy?


Yes. If an employer typically provides modified tasks, alternative assignments, leaves without pay, or other accommodations for other disabilities, the employer must treat pregnancy-related disabilities in the same manner. For example, a pregnant bus driver with a history of miscarriages was refused accommodations for her disability while her employer had routinely done so for temporarily disabled male employees. This is an example of sex discrimination for which the plaintiff was able to recover.


How do I prove that I need a special accommodation?


A note from your doctor specifying the need for an accommodated work environment should be sufficient.


For what amount of time can I take leave because of pregnancy?


The New York Workers’ Compensation Law allows for short term disability leave. An employer is required to permit the same amount of leave for pregnancy-related disabilities as it would for any other type of disability. The law allows for up to 26 weeks leave at 50% of the employee’s average weekly salary. The federal Family Medical Leave Act allows up to 12 weeks unpaid leave after the birth of your child if your employer has at least 50 employees and you have been employed by the company for one year.


What happens to my job while I am on pregnancy leave?


You should be able to return to your former position as long as your employer follows this standard in other cases of disability leave.


Can my employer deny me pregnancy leave?


No. Denial of sick leave benefits for pregnancy-related disabilities when they are provided for other forms of disability constitutes unlawful discrimination under the New York Human Rights Law.


I’ve been missing a lot of work due to prenatal check-ups or pregnancy-related complications; can my employer fire me for this?


A pregnant employee who takes pregnancy-related leave must be permitted to take advantage of her sick leave to the same extent as if she were suffering from some other temporary physical disability. You cannot be fired for using accrued sick time.


Is my employer required to pay me while I am on pregnancy leave?


To the extent that your employer pays employees who are on disability leave for other types of disabilities, your employer is required to pay you while you are on maternity leave. In other words, your employer does not have to provide paid leave if it does not pay employees who go on medical leave other reasons.


I’m pregnant but not showing yet and I have an upcoming interview, do I need to disclose the fact that I’m pregnant?


While you do not need to disclose your pregnancy at the time of an interview, you should feel free to do so knowing that the New York Human Rights Law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. This means that a failure to hire you based on your pregnancy would be a violation of state law.


Can my employer prevent me from working while I’m pregnant or require me to take a certain amount of leave?


New York Human Rights Law prohibits an employer from compelling a pregnant employee to take a leave of absence unless the pregnancy prevents her from performing the tasks of her job in a reasonable manner.


Does my employer’s health insurance have to cover the medical costs of my pregnancy?


Not every employer is required to offer a health plan. However, if your employer offers a group policy which provides hospital, surgical, or medical coverage, it must also include coverage for maternity care. The maternity care provision must include hospital, surgical, or medical care to the same extent that coverage is provided for illness or disease under the policy.


Can my employer treat me differently because I am unmarried and pregnant?


An employer cannot discriminate on the basis of pregnancy because this constitutes sex discrimination as prohibited by the New York Human Rights Law. However, an employer may raise a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) as a defense if it can show that its policy can be justified as a business necessity.


I was pregnant, but had a miscarriage or an abortion, and need time off to recover. Am I covered by the law?


You will need to check with your employer about their policies regarding abortion. However, a miscarriage falls within the realm of protection afforded by the New York Human Rights Law. The law has supported a finding of pregnancy discrimination where it was shown that the employee’s request for a leave of absence due to complications from a miscarriage was denied by the employer, despite a doctor’s note, while male counterparts were treated more favorably in being allowed to take leave without adequate time accruals.


What could my employer do to deny my allegations, and how do I respond to its denials?


In order to overcome the presumption of retaliation, an employer may provide proof of comparable policies with respect to non-pregnancy-related disabilities. It would then be your burden to show that a disparity exists with respect to other disabilities or that other disabilities are afforded greater benefits than pregnancy-related disabilities.


I was recently denied a promotion and the person who was awarded the position was another woman. Can I still file a claim for pregnancy discrimination?


It is possible to file a claim of sex discrimination based on your pregnancy even if another female was awarded a position for which you had also applied. Courts have found the existence of discrimination in cases where one person in a protected class has lost out to another person in the same protected class. If you were denied the promotion because of your pregnancy, you may still have a claim of discrimination.



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