No fault attendance policies often illegally discriminate against pregnant women

By Jack Tuckner, Esq.

You don’t need me to mansplain this to you to know, that pregnancy – even healthy, normal pregnancies – are challenging. And when they are not healthy and normal, for example, if you are experiencing severe morning sickness, if you are experiencing UTIs, if you have any number of other pregnancy-related complications, and your employer has a no-fault attendance policy, a so-called maximum leave policy, that holds you accountable, or assigns demerits for each day that you are late or absent, and then you reach that maximum leave and they say, “Sorry, it’s no-fault, we are not holding you to a different standard, we do this with everyone;” It’s illegal!

They have to be now more flexible with you under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, under your state human rights law; it is likely that pregnancy, and anything that’s related to pregnancy including, now, lactation, subsequent to your maternity leave or again just gestational challenges you are dealing with that require your employer to have a conversation with you known as a cooperative dialogue or an interactive process, in order to determine what a reasonable accommodation would be for your pregnancy-related needs.

That’s what flexibility, compassion, that’s what a reasonable accommodation actually is, and it’s the law. It’s the law, it’s the federal law if your employer has 15 employees, and if you work, depending on where you work, if you work in New York State, four employees. But chances are, if you work for an employer with at least 15 employees, you’re covered and it’s illegal when your employer disciplines you, or fires you because of their no-fault policy when you are pregnant.