Reasonable Accommodations in the Workplace for Pregnant Employees

I mentioned in a video here last week that if you work for any employer in New York City and you’re pregnant, you’re entitled to flexibility throughout your pregnancy and even after your pregnancy, when you return, in terms of lactation issues, because New York City has the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. Again, the most comprehensive pregnancy discrimination law in the country. But even if you work outside of New York City, in New York state or anywhere in the country, for an employer with at least 15 employees, you’re entitled to flexibility during your pregnancy as well. Even if your employer tells you that they’re not obligated because they’re a private employer, or you used up all your sick leave, or you’re not covered by the family and medical leave act, it doesn’t matter because your employer doubtless provides flexibility and accommodations to other employees who are not pregnant but are similar in their ability or inability to work with certain limitations such as other types of disabilities.


Your employer in all probability, because otherwise it would be violating the law, accommodates those people. People who have limitations in terms of lifting, or they’re sick for a while, or they have to go to the doctor, or any kind of reasonable flexibility and accommodation that’s accorded to others, either groups or other individuals that are not pregnant. Those are your comparitor individuals. Your company must treat you no differently, no worse than it does other employees who aren’t pregnant and require flexibility. Or it is sex discrimination because pregnancy and pregnancy related challenges are obviously only born by women.

So when you are pregnant, because the EEOC and federal law has been trending toward this flexibility and accommodations under the pregnancy discrimination act, EEOC guidelines and undoubtedly your state’s anti-discrimination statute. If you’re experiencing any kind of inflexibility, hostility, or discrimination during your pregnancy, make sure you document it to your employer. Make sure you insist that you’re entitled to flexibility so that you can see your obstetrician during the day, so that you can have tests, and so that you can sit down occasionally. If your position requires eight hours of standing, you are entitled to flexibility so that you can have a healthy pregnancy and give birth to a healthy baby. And take your maternity leave and then return to work, no worse for wear.