Amicus Brief Authored by A Better Balance Persuades Court to Adopt Correct Interpretation of New York PWFA

State and local pregnancy accommodation laws provide vital protections for thousands of workers, ensuring that they will never be forced to choose between a healthy pregnancy and a paycheck. A Better Balance fought hard to get these laws passed and will continue to fight in the courts to ensure they are correctly interpreted and enforced.
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In January 2024, A Better Balance filed an amicus brief urging a court in the Southern District of New York to reconsider its prior ruling that applied the incorrect standard to a worker’s accommodation claims under New York City and New York State’s Pregnant Workers Fairness Acts (PWFAs). 

The court had erroneously concluded that pregnant workers alleging that their employer illegally failed to accommodate them must prove that their employers accommodated other, non-pregnant workers. This incorrect interpretation reflects the narrow framework that pregnant workers were forced to use to access accommodations before the PWFA laws were enacted in New York. And it is precisely this narrow framework that we fought back against in pushing for the passage of the New York State and New York City PWFAs. Thanks to the enactment of these policies, pregnant and postpartum workers in New York are now entitled to the accommodations they need at work, regardless of how their employers have treated other workers.

On Wednesday, the court issued a new decision, reversing her prior order and adopting the correct legal standard we outlined in our amicus brief. The court explicitly credited the explanation provided by our brief, which was also joined by seven other organizations that serve low-wage pregnant and postpartum New Yorkers. Thanks to this new ruling, there is clear legal precedent that pregnant workers need not identify others who have been accommodated in order to show their right to pregnancy accommodations under the New York State and New York City PWFAs. 

Even with the federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act in place, state and local PWFAs provide critical additional protections, especially for workers at smaller employers. We will continue to fight to ensure that these important laws enacted by so many states and localities nationwide are properly understood and enforced through the courts.

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