New York City Approves Workplace Protections for Pregnant Women

September 25, 2013 — The New York City Council has passed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which aims to better protect the rights of pregnant women in the workforce, the New York Times' "Motherlode" reports.

Under the legislation -- introduced by Council member James Vacca (D) -- employers with at least four employees must provide reasonable accommodations, without penalizing the worker, for pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions (Dell'Antonia, "Motherlode," New York Times, 9/24).

At the federal level, similar legislation is pending in the Senate (S 942) and House (HR 1975) (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/15). In New York state, the Women's Equality Act -- which included protections for pregnant workers, among other provisions -- stalled in the Legislature.

The various legislative measures aim to address gaps in the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Currently, employers can refuse to accommodate pregnancy-related requests for accommodations -- such as carrying a water bottle -- if all workers are subject to the same restrictions, "Motherlode" reports ("Motherlode," New York Times, 9/24).