If you are working while pregnant, or recovering from childbirth, you don’t have to risk your health to stay at your job. New York State law gives you an explicit right to reasonable pregnancy accommodations at work so you can keep earning a paycheck when you need it most.
Am I covered?
If you have a pregnancy- or childbirth-related medical need, including lactation, and work for, or are applying to work for an employer in New York State, then you are covered. You are also covered by the law if you are an independent contractor.*
*New York State law defines “non-employees” as contractor, subcontractor, vendor, consultant or other person providing services pursuant to a contract in the workplace or who is an employee of such contractor, subcontractor, vendor, consultant or other person providing services pursuant to a contract in the workplace.
What is a reasonable workplace accommodation?
If you have a pregnancy- or childbirth-related medical need, including lactation, your employer has to make changes to your work duties or schedule if it will help you stay healthy on the job, unless it would be very difficult or expensive for them to do so. These changes are called “reasonable accommodations.”
What are some examples of reasonable accommodations?
- Light duty, help with lifting, or a temporary transfer to a less physically demanding position
- Breaks to drink water
- Occasional breaks to rest
- Time off for recovery from childbirth
- Modified work schedule
- Break time and space to express milk
How do I ask my employer for a reasonable accommodation?
You can request an accommodation directly from your employer. They are allowed to request a note from your healthcare provider to confirm that you need the accommodation (though you have a right for that information to be kept confidential).
Your employer can only deny the request if it would cause an “undue hardship” for them to grant it or, if you cannot, with accommodation, perform the activities of your job in a reasonable manner.
What if my employer accommodates other workers with limitations but not me?
Consult with an attorney. This could be evidence of pregnancy discrimination.
Do I have additional rights if I work in New York City?
Yes. If you work in New York City and need a pregnancy accommodation, your employer cannot request or require you to bring in a doctor’s note justifying the accommodation. Employers in New York City can request a doctor’s note only if you request an accommodation that includes time away from work and the request does not violate any other federal, state, and city laws, such as the New York City earned sick time law.
The City’s guidance related to the New York City pregnancy accommodation law makes it clear that you are entitled to reasonable accommodations for pumping breast milk at work as well as if you have experienced post-partum depression, a miscarriage, or terminated a pregnancy.
A couple additional notes:
- These laws apply to you regardless of your immigration or citizenship status.
- The information listed in this section does not constitute legal advice. It is always advisable to consult with an attorney about your individual circumstances if you have questions or think your rights as a worker have been violated.
If you have questions about any of the rights discussed in this guide, we are here to help. A Better Balance's free, confidential legal helpline can help you understand your workplace rights.
Reach us at 1-833-NEED-ABB (1-833-633-3222).