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Protecting the Legal Rights of Pregnant Workers

Long gone are the days when an employer can lawfully refuse to hire or terminate a woman because she became pregnant, may become pregnant, or recently had a child. However, legal protections for pregnant women and women of childbearing age do not always stop employers from trying to discriminate.

Too many female employees suffer adverse employment actions because they become pregnant or have children. In addition, workplaces may try to make it difficult for a pregnant woman or new mother to perform her job, so they may use excuses to take action against her and replace her with someone else.

If you are a pregnant employee in New York City or have recently given birth, you have important legal rights against discrimination and harassment. In addition, the law provides the right to certain accommodations that allow you to perform your job despite any limitations caused by pregnancy or childbirth.

At Braverman Law PC, we stand up for the rights of New York City employees to work free from discrimination and unnecessary challenges. If you believe that your employer has violated your rights in any manner, please contact our office as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.

Protections Against Pregnancy Discrimination

Both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the New York City Human Rights Law provide the right to work free from discrimination based on sex, among other factors. In 1978, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) passed as an amendment to Title VII, which made pregnancy discrimination a form of unlawful sex discrimination. This specification was mirrored in New York law, as well. These laws prohibit discrimination or harassment based on any of the following:

  • Pregnancy
  • Childbirth
  • Related medical conditions

The law prohibits employers from inquiring whether a woman is pregnant, plans to become pregnant, or has recently been pregnant, and they cannot base any employment decisions on these factors.

Employers cannot treat a pregnancy differently than other medical conditions in the workplace. For example: An employer cannot penalize a pregnant employee who needs to attend prenatal appointments during work hours if the employer does not penalize employees for taking off work due to other types of medical appointments. In addition, the law prohibits an employer from taking any kind of adverse employment action against a pregnant woman or new mother in retaliation for complaining about discrimination or harassment.

Despite this laws and protections, many pregnant women or women who give birth experience unlawful discrimination or retaliation in the workplace. If you believe that your employer has engaged in illegal pregnancy or sex discrimination, please contact Braverman Law PC to learn about your legal options.

Accommodations for Pregnant Women and New Mothers in New York City

In addition to prohibiting discrimination and harassment, New York City employment laws provide additional rights for pregnant women and new mothers. In 2013, the New York City Human Rights Law was amended to ensure that pregnant women and new mothers stay healthy and are not required to over-exert themselves at work and put their health at risk.

The law allows pregnant women and women who recently gave birth to request reasonable accommodations at work so they can perform their jobs.

Common accommodations that women may request include:

  • Temporary transfer from a job that is too physically demanding, or assistance with physically demanding tasks
  • Breaks to rest or get drinks of water
  • Ensuring you are not working in an environment with toxins or substances that may harm a child
  • Making changes to a work schedule
  • Allowing time away from work to recover after childbirth

An employer may only refuse to grant accommodations if it can prove the accommodation would cause undue hardship or if the accommodation would prevent you from performing the essential requirements of your position. However, an employer cannot deny you an accommodation for undue hardship and then grant a similar accommodation to an employee with a different limiting disability or medical condition.

The law protects any employee who is pregnant, recovering from having a child, nursing, or who has any medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth that requires a work accommodation. You do not have to experience pregnancy complications or any official disability to qualify for these protections, either, as the law applies to employees with perfectly healthy pregnancies and births. The law recognizes that even a healthy pregnancy may require an accommodation to eliminate strenuous work and protects a pregnant woman's right to keep her job.

Even though this is a relatively new law in New York City, all employers in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Staten Island must comply. If your employer refuses to provide reasonable accommodations or otherwise discriminates against you in any way for your pregnancy or having a child, make your first call to a dedicated New York City employment law firm. The law allows you to seek legal recourse for any harm you suffered due to pregnancy discrimination or a refusal of accommodation. This can include lost wages and even compensation for emotional distress in some cases.

A New York City Pregnancy Discrimination Attorney Will Stand up for Your Rights

At Braverman Law PC, we take the rights of all employees seriously, and we fight to hold discriminating employers fully accountable for the harm they cause. We thoroughly understand all New York state and local New York City employment laws and fight to uphold your rights under these laws. If your employer violated your rights, do not wait any longer to call our New York City employment lawyer at (212) 206-8166 or contact us online to discuss a possible case today.


We will use our years of expertise and experience to fight for your rights as a business owner or employee. We have the skills, dedication, and knowledge to protect your best interests.