Being pregnant does not give your employer license to make assumptions about your ability to work or put your job in jeopardy. This is called pregnancy discrimination. Under federal, state, and local anti-discrimination laws, employers cannot treat you unfavorably because you are pregnant, recovering from childbirth, or have a medical condition related to your pregnancy or childbirth.
Am I covered?
If you are pregnant, recovering from childbirth, or have a related medical condition and work for, or are applying to work for, an employer in New York State who has four or more employees, then you are covered.
Beginning October 11, 2019, if you are an independent contractor,* you will also be covered. Beginning February 8, 2020 all employees, including those that work in workplaces with fewer than four employees, in New York State will be legally protected from pregnancy discrimination.
*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 does pregnancy discrimination look like?
Your employer cannot:
- Fire you or cut your hours when they find out you’re pregnant.
- Force you on leave during your pregnancy, unless your pregnancy prevents you from reasonably performing your job with accommodation.
- Treat you differently from other co-workers just because you are pregnant. For instance, if your employer provides certain benefits or accommodations to non-pregnant employees (such as light duty) and then refuses to provide the same or similar accommodations to pregnant workers, this could be evidence of pregnancy discrimination.
- Deny you fringe benefits that they offer to other employees.
If you are applying for a job, an employer cannot:
- Ask if you are pregnant or planning to have children.
- Refuse to hire you because you are pregnant.
Do I have to tell my boss I’m pregnant?
There are no real legal deadlines for notifying your employer until late in your pregnancy, when you will need to request leave 30 days in advance of taking off for childbirth and/or bonding if you are covered by New York paid family leave or the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.
If you suspect that your boss won’t be happy to hear you are pregnant, don’t feel pressure to tell them before you are ready. However, keep in mind that your colleagues and boss may appreciate being told as soon as you feel comfortable, so that they, and you, can plan ahead.
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.
To view the full Working Woman’s Pocket Guide, click here.
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).