On January 30, 2014, an amendment (the “Amendment”) to the New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”) expanding the protections afforded to pregnant employees takes effect. The Amendment requires New York City employers of four or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees and those with pregnancy or childbirth-related medical conditions, regardless of whether a pregnant employee’s condition would qualify as a disability under federal, state or city law. Examples of reasonable accommodations pursuant to the Amendment include bathroom breaks, breaks to facilitate increased water intake, and periodic rest for those who stand for long periods of time.
The Amendment also requires covered employers to notify their employees in writing of the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition in a form and manner to be determined by the New York City Commission on Human Rights (the “Commission”). Employers are required to provide written notice to all new hires beginning January 30, 2014; the obligation to notify all existing employees begins May 30, 2014.
The Amendment itself does not proscribe the form of notice. However the Commission has published an information card. Employers should include this card in all new hire materials beginning January 30, 2014 and distribute to existing employees by May 30, 2014.
Although not specifically addressed in the Amendment, distributing a revised discrimination policy (in an employee handbook, for example) which encompasses the contents of the card may also satisfy the requirement to notify existing employees. Employers are encouraged to obtain employee acknowledgements of receipt regardless of the method by which they determine to provide notice to new hires and existing employees.
Lastly, the Commission has published a poster, which employers are encouraged to post in a conspicuous place. The poster does not, however, fulfill the notice requirement.