At A Better Balance, we hear from hundreds of workers every year who call our free legal hotline to understand their workplace rights surrounding pregnancy, parenting, sick leave, family and medical leave, and more.
Aviva called us last month to learn more about her rights as a working parent in New York City. She had just received a job offer from a new media company based in Manhattan. Originally, the company said they would be open to workers telecommuting. As a new parent struggling to find reliable and affordable child care, Aviva hoped to take advantage of this option. Working from home on some days would make it easier for her to ensure child care coverage throughout the day—by dividing caregiving responsibilities among the family members, friends, and paid caregivers she is currently relying on for support. Aviva also thought that being able to breastfeed her son from home while working, rather than having to take breaks to pump, would make her more productive during the workday.
After being offered the job, Aviva learned that another employee already hired for the same position was being allowed to telecommute on a full-time basis. Aviva was surprised when the company was apprehensive about her request to telecommute after she revealed that she had an eight-week-old child.
At that point, Aviva called A Better Balance. We informed her that the New York City and New York State Human Rights Laws make it illegal for employers to discriminate against workers or job applicants because they are parents—meaning, for example, companies can’t offer benefits like job flexibility to some employees but deny them to others because they have children. Armed with this knowledge, Aviva decided to continue pushing for the ability to telecommute.
A week later, Aviva reported back to us with a happy outcome: the company agreed to all of her requests on location flexibility, allowing her to work from home four days a week after completing an in-office training. They also agreed to provide her with a $2,000 stipend to go toward child care expenses.
According to Aviva, learning about her rights strengthened her confidence when negotiating with her then-prospective employer. “I’m so grateful for the information that A Better Balance provided,” Aviva told us, “as it enabled me to advocate for myself.”