According to Tom Spiggle, a contributor to the Huffington Post, if your are reading this blog post from NYC, and pregnant, you are in the best possible place you can be – at least concerning your legal protections:
"Certainly all states are covered by federal law, which includes the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, but even this law only covers employers that have 15 or more employees -- and courts are split on what rights this act provides. Courts have held that employers don't have to make minor accommodations at work -- like allowing women to carry a water bottle to stay hydrated -- to allow pregnant women to keep working. Fortunately, a lot of states and cities are stepping up to fill the gap.
Here's a list of the top five best cities to live in if you're working and pregnant based on local regulations which protect mothers and fathers against discrimination and unfair working conditions." (link)
According to Spiggle, New York City comes in at #1, in no small part because of its passage of a 2013 law increasing protections for pregnant employees and another 2013 law creating additional rights to take sick leave from work, including to care for a sick family member:
1. New York City, NY
In 2013, New York City passed amendments to its Human Rights Law that require employers with four or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant women to allow them to continue to work through their pregnancy. This protection is broader than both the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the New York State Human Rights Law. But here's the kicker that gets NYC first-place billing: it requires employers with five or more employees to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave to care for themselves or certain family members.
So, if you are pregnant and your doctor tells you to avoid lifting heavy objects, if you live in NYC, your employer will have to accommodate that restriction. If you've also got a toddler at home who comes down with the flu and can't go to daycare, you can also get some paid leave to stay home for a few days. If you lived in a state like Virginia, your employer could fire you for refusing to come to work under those same circumstances. (link)
The De Blasio administration further expanded protections covering sick leave earlier this year:
"In January—17 days after taking office—the Mayor put forward paid sick leave legislation that expanded this right to more New Yorkers – including 200,000 of whom do not currently have any paid sick days. The law will take effect on April 1 and apply to all workers at businesses with five or more employees, encompassing those excluded under the previous legislation that applied to businesses with 15 or more workers." (link)
The newest bill further improves on the 2013 sick leave legislation by:
- Eliminating the phase-in, which would have delayed coverage to workers at businesses between 15 and 20 workers. This means 140,000 people who would have waited until mid-2015 under the existing bill will have coverage this April. Eighty-five thousand of those workers do not currently have a single paid sick day.
- Removing exemptions for the manufacturing sector, extending paid sick leave coverage to 76,000 workers, half of whom don’t currently have any paid sick days.
- Adding grandparents, grandchildren and siblings to the definition of family members workers can legally care for using paid sick time.
- Eliminating the economic trigger that could have delayed implementation of paid sick leave based on certain economic benchmarks. (link)
As if you needed another reason to live in NYC?
Hat tip to San Francisco and Newark for second and third place.
Even bigger hat tip to Better Balance and the many other advocacy organizations that helped get these important bills passed.
Spiggle also has a forthcoming book titled “You’re Pregnant? You’re Fired! Protecting Mothers, Fathers, and Other Caregivers in the Workplace.”