Three years ago, the New York City Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (NYC PWFA), went into effect on this day. The city law was one of the first of nearly a dozen such laws that have passed across the country since 2012 to ensure that pregnant workers can stay healthy and keep earning a paycheck when they need it most.
The law protects pregnant employees and mothers who have recently given birth against discrimination by requiring every employer with four or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations as long as the request does not cause an undue hardship on the employer. The law covers needs related to pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions; women with healthy pregnancies, and those with lactation or other post-childbirth related needs, can get accommodations such as light duty to prevent injury in a physically demanding job or the ability to nurse a baby during breaks on a multi-day shift.
The NYC PWFA offers a powerful tool to pregnant women to help them secure the changes they need to stay healthy and stay on the job, without prolonged delays. One of these women, Noemi, called ABB’s helpline when she was 34 weeks pregnant and had just been pushed out of her job at a New York City catering company. Noemi’s doctor put her on bedrest for the last month of her pregnancy, and instead of accommodating her need for limited time off, Noemi’s employer fired her, causing her to lose her health insurance as a result. After ABB called the employer to explain the scope of the law and their obligations, the employer agreed to reinstate Noemi’s employment with benefits including health insurance.
As Noemi told us:
“My family and I will forever be grateful for A Better Balance. When I called them, I was 34 weeks pregnant and had just been fired from my job because my doctor put me on bedrest. Even worse, my health insurance was cancelled in the last months of my high-risk pregnancy. A Better Balance was able to not only provide advice and support but also to quickly get my health insurance restored and arrange the option of returning to my job once I had my baby. I don’t know what my family and I would have done without the lawyers at A Better Balance and I can’t thank them enough.”
ABB has been able to assist numerous women like Noemi in New York, using the PWFA to help them stay on the job, get the accommodations they need, or get reinstated after being pushed out of their job. You can read more about our success stories on our website.