Pregnancy Discrimination vs. Reasonable Accommodation

Dina Bakst, in her Jan. 31 Op-Ed article, “Pregnant, and Pushed Out of a Job,” disappointingly did not distinguish between two very specific and different legal terms, “accommodation request” and “pregnancy discrimination.”  Additionally, she failed to recognize New York City’s Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”), one of the strongest laws in the nation protecting New York City’s citizens.

Pregnancy discrimination (which is illegal under Federal, State and City Law) is discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.  Accommodation requests are mandated and required to be provided by an employer for the purposes of accommodating a documented disability, when that request is reasonable in nature.   Reasonableness is measured by whether the accommodation causes undue hardship to the employer.  Since pregnancy (an amazing and beautiful blessing) is not considered a disability under any law in the nation, employers are not required to provide such accommodations.  This is not to say that an employer can go and deny maternity leave, fire based on pregnancy, decrease pay, etc.  But there is no requirement under the current laws which require an employer to accommodate a pregnant woman’s condition.  So what is there left to do?

Here, I do agree with Ms. Bakst that the legislature must step up to reform the current laws in order to better accommodate pregnant women in the workplace.  However, it is not entirely accurate or fair to bash the legislature for creating laws which do provide protections for pregnant women, ensuring their job security when they decide to bring a new child into the world.  Let’s applaud the legislature for laying the groundwork, but insist that they could always do more.

We are always here to help.  If you believe that you or your family member was a victim of pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Risman & Risman, P.C. at (212) 233-6400 or contact us online.