An important thing to understand about employment law is that workplace discrimination is addressed differently by different pieces of legislation on the federal, state and city levels. For example, the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy, but the law applies only to workplaces with 15 or more employees.
New York City also has a pregnancy discrimination law called the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which requires employers to make basic accommodations for pregnant workers. New York state law also provides protections to pregnant employees, though a bill currently caught up in the state legislature would go further in offering protections to pregnant workers.
The Women's Equality Act would clarify that pregnancy discrimination is a specific type of discrimination, and that pregnant workers can bring pregnancy discrimination complaints rather than addressing this kind of discrimination in a gender- or sex-related complaint.
The bill covers a range of issues, including equal pay for women, pregnancy discrimination, abortion law and penalties for domestic violence, sexual harassment and human trafficking. One part of the bill -- the domestic violence part -- has already been passed into law.
The other parts have yet to be signed into law and enacted because of controversy over the portion of the law that deals with abortion. The act would align New York State abortion law with federal law.
Meanwhile, the number of workplace discrimination complaints, including pregnancy-related claims, continues to rise in New York. One such complaint is discussed in a recent article about a New York woman who says she was fired from her cashier position because of her pregnancy.
To learn more about fighting back against pregnancy discrimination in New York, please see Serrins Fisher's pregnancy discrimination overview.