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By May 30, NYC Employers Must Provide Notice of Rights to All Employees Under Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

On May 23, 2014 by Schnader in Labor and Employment

By Scott J. Wenner

In the final months of the Bloomberg Administration, the New York City Council passed and Mayor Bloomberg signed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), which became effective on January 30, 2014. The PWFA requires New York City employers that have four or more workers – including independent contractors – to provide reasonable accommodations to workers for pregnancy, childbirth and associated medical conditions if doing so would permit the worker to perform the essential functions of the position without causing undue hardship to the employer. It amends the New York City Human Rights Law to strengthen existing protections against pregnancy discrimination and add new affirmative accommodation duties.

The PWFA’s enactment occurred in tandem passage of Philadelphia’s Fair Practice Ordinance (which we discussed here). It follows on the heels of similar legislation in nine states, including New Jersey (discussed here), following the amendment of the Americans With Disabilities Act in 2008 to confirm that pregnancy disabilities are protected under the ADA, inter alia.

In addition to its substantive terms, the PWFA also adds individual notification requirements to the responsibilities of beleaguered New York City human resource officials. The new law does not mandate posting in addition to distribution of the notice, but suggests that employers may wish to do so. Specifically, by May 30, New York City’s places of employment must (i) distribute a written notice that informs workers of the rights of pregnant employees to reasonable accommodations for their pregnancies and childbirth disabilities; and (ii) ensure thereafter that all new hires are provided copies of the same written notification upon commencement of their employment. Covered employers also may conspicuously post, but that will not relieve them of their individual notification responsibilities. Businesses need only provide each worker with a single notice; there is no annual or periodic notification requirement. Only businesses with fewer than three employees in New York City are exempted.

The NYC Human Rights Commission has created Pregnancy and Employment Rights posters, available in seven languages, which it says will satisfy the notice and posting requirements.

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