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Pregnant workers legally protected from discrimination

New York women who become pregnant may want to continue working for most of their pregnancy. While a pregnant woman may be able to perform many of her usual job tasks, she may also need some workplace accommodations. Employers are legally obligated to provide pregnant workers with reasonable accommodations and protect pregnant workers from discrimination.

A pregnant woman is not required to inform her employer about her pregnancy until it impacts her ability to perform her job duties. When an employer knows that a worker is pregnant, the employer cannot punish the pregnant worker for becoming pregnant. An employer may ask to see a doctor's note about the pregnancy that explains what kinds of job modifications the pregnant worker will require.

Pregnant workers have the right to go on maternity leave once they are no longer able to work. Not all employers offer benefits that include paid maternity leave, but the Family and Medical Leave Act protects pregnant workers' right to take unpaid, job-protected leave. While a pregnant worker is on leave, their employer cannot fire her or demote her when they return to work.

Most employers know that it is illegal under two federal laws to discriminate against pregnant workers, so they may not make discriminatory workplace practices obvious. An attorney may be able to represent a worker in a pregnancy discrimination claim and help the worker to prove that discrimination occurred. If a worker was fired for taking pregnancy leave or asking for accommodations, the worker may be able to claim compensation for the resulting financial losses.

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