For immediate release:
Tuesday May 5, 2015
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Pregnancy Accommodations Become Law in New York—Empire State Joins Growing Movement to Guarantee Fairness for Pregnant Workers
Albany, N.Y.—With a unanimous vote, the New York State Assembly today passed legislation to guarantee pregnant workers the right to reasonable accommodations in the workplace. The legislation was part of Governor Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Agenda and he is expected to sign the bill into law later this month, making New York the latest in a string of states to enact laws protecting the rights of pregnant workers.
Dina Bakst, Co-Founder and Co-President of A Better Balance, who has been pushing for this bill since 2012, said: “Now thousands of New York women will be able to quickly get the modest accommodations they need to stay healthy and employed, providing crucial support to their families who increasingly rely on mothers as breadwinners.”
The new law will help women who, like Bakst’s client Betzaida Cruz Cardona, are pushed out of work, and often into financial dire straits, when they ask for a minor adjustment to their work duties or hours in order to protect their health and that of their pregnancy.
New York becomes the ninth state since 2013 to guarantee pregnant workers the right to reasonable accommodations, filling a gap in existing law that left many pregnant women and new mothers out of a job when they needed it most to support their families. Many of these bills, including New York’s, garnered widespread bipartisan support, indicating rare consensus across the political spectrum.
Congress is expected to take up the issue soon with reintroduction of the federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. Since the bill was last introduced in 2013, the United States Supreme Court ruled, in the case of Young v. UPS, that employers may not fail to accommodate pregnant workers while accommodating other non-pregnant workers when doing so imposes a significant burden on pregnant women and the employer lacks a strong non-discriminatory reason to impose the burden.
While the Court’s ruling was a win for Peggy Young, it left a murky legal landscape for most pregnant workers seeking accommodations. Laws like the one passed today in New York clarify the legal standard and set the stage for Congressional action.