Earlier this month, Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed into law legislation prohibiting pregnancy discrimination by New York City employers. The legislation, passed unanimously last month by the New York City Council, bars employers from refusing to provide a reasonable accommodation for pregnant women. The law is an amendment to the New York City Human Rights Law and applies to all businesses with four or more employees or independent contractors. Employers must provide an accommodation unless they can show either that they would face an “undue hardship” in making a needed accommodation or that the employee seeking an accommodation could not, if given the requested accommodation, perform his or her essential job duties. Thus, for covered New York City employers, the law institutes an Americans with Disabilities Act-style reasonable accommodation requirement for all pregnant employees.
According to the legislative findings that accompanied the law, reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees may include bathroom breaks, leave for a period of disability arising from childbirth, breaks to facilitate increased water intake, periodic rest for those who stand for long periods of time, and assistance with manual labor, among other things.
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