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Pregnant Workers Should Know Their Rights

When New York City’s Pregnant Workers Fairness Act went into affect in early 2014, its aim was to provide employees with reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, as long as the accommodation allows the employee to perform the essential functions of the job. But, as a recent New York Times article highlights, some women still face pregnancy discrimination at work. The article focuses on the story of Angelica Valencia, a 39-year old woman who was three months pregnant and working at a potato packing plant in the Bronx. Because of a high risk pregnancy, her doctor told her that she could not work more than 8 hours a day. But, when Valencia gave her employer a doctor’s note indicating that she could not work overtime, her employer was unable to provide an accommodation, and she was ultimately forced out of her job.

Like many women in low-paying jobs, Valencia did not know about her rights under the New York City’s Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. In an effort to educate individuals about this law, officials from the New York City Commission on Human Rights and women’s rights advocates have been speaking to business groups, doctors, nurses, and union representatives to ensure that women know about their rights and that employers know their obligations under the law. In fact, the law specifies that employees must be informed in writing of their rights under the statute. For more information regarding New York City’s Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, you can speak to an experienced labor and employment attorney at Berke-Weiss Law PLLC.