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New York City Pregnancy Poster Reminds Us – Beware of Local Rules

Coast to coast, municipalities are gaining notoriety for passing various labor and employment laws (known as ordinances), from the sick leave laws enacted in Jersey City and New York City to the $15 per hour  minimum wage law adopted in Sea-Tac, Washington.  Increasingly, local governments are passing laws which are very different than the existing state or federal law.  Employers must pay special attention to municipal laws that mandate how they do business in that municipality, and comply with any new obligations created by them.

For example, beginning on January 30, 2014, New York City employers with four or more employees must reasonably accommodate an employee’s pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition under a new law.  Beyond the declaration of substantive rights, this law mandates employers provide written notice of the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions to all new employees at the time of hire and to all current employees by May 30, 2014.  Since the law is silent on which employees must receive this notice, the assumption is all employees receive it.  Employers are also encouraged to post the notice in a conspicuous area where employees have access, but are not required to do so.  The New York City Commission on Human Rights has this notice in several different languages which can be downloaded at: http://www.nyc.gov/html/cchr/html/publications/pregnancy-employment-poster.shtml, as well as informational cards which can be downloaded at: http://www.nyc.gov/html/cchr/html/publications/pregnancy-infocard.shtml.  It is unclear whether employers must distribute the notice or the informational card.  Although both documents are provided in several languages, employers are required only to provide notice in English.

The good news is this new ordinance does not create brand new rights for employees.  However, obligations like distributing this notice may go unnoticed if employers are focusing on only state and federal laws.  Therefore, employers must become familiar with all new local laws and what new employer obligations have been created.

Brody and Associates regularly advises management on complying with state and federal employment laws.  If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.965.0560.