Following Reports of Pregnancy Discrimination, Governor Directs DHR to Investigate Past or Present Violations of State Law with Respect to Pregnancy Discrimination.
Albany, NY - June 28, 2018 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today directed the Division of Human Rights to investigate allegations of pregnancy-related discrimination by several major companies. This announcement comes following reports of widespread instances of pregnant women being passed over for promotions, demoted, denied reasonable accommodations, or fired in the workplace. In addition, the Governor directed the Division of Human Rights, Department of Labor and Workers' Compensation Board to launch a comprehensive, multiplatform, multilingual education and outreach campaign for employees to know their rights and for employers to know their responsibilities to prevent unlawful pregnancy discrimination. The campaign includes subway ads to drive New Yorkers to a website with detailed information on state law, rights of employees and responsibilities of employers.
"New York leads the nation in advancing equal rights, and these actions will build on our proud record to help ensure women have equal opportunities to succeed in the workplace," Governor Cuomo said. "Discrimination against those who are pregnant is illegal, and we will hold employers who violate the law fully accountable. As we continue to champion women's rights and break down barriers to equality, this investigation and outreach campaign will help make New York a safer, stronger state for all."
A recent investigative article by the New York Times described a pattern of many of the nation's largest and most prestigious companies discriminating against pregnant women. The victims whose stories were referenced in the article reported being passed over for promotions and raises. Many say they were fired for speaking out about ill treatment, which included being denied reasonable accommodations they requested, such as rest breaks or being allowed to carry water bottles on the job. Other women allege they were demoted to less-prestigious, lower-paying jobs when they took maternity leave.
"Women are invaluable to the work force," said Division of Human Rights Commissioner Helen Diane Foster. "Any efforts to torpedo their careers for the most natural of human processes - becoming pregnant - will be met with the full force of the Human Rights Law. No woman should have to choose between earning a living and having a child."
Know Your Rights, Know Your Responsibilities
To help ensure that all New Yorkers know their rights and responsibilities with respect to pregnancy discrimination, Governor Cuomo directed the Division of Human Rights, Department of Labor and Workers Compensation Board to launch an education and outreach campaign. The campaign includes a website with detailed information on state law, rights of employees and responsibilities of employers, and a text opt-in and subway ads to drive New Yorkers to that site. The information will be available in many languages and across platforms to reach diverse constituencies of New York employees across income levels and nationalities.
Any employee that believes they have been discriminated against because of pregnancy, or denied a reasonable accommodation for a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth, can file complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights: visit: https://dhr.ny.gov or call 1-888-392-3644.
These actions build on the Governor's record of fighting for workers' rights and against discrimination and worker exploitation.
On Equal Pay Day 2018, Governor Cuomo advanced legislation to ban all employers, public and private, who do business in New York State, from asking prospective employees about their salary history and compensation.
On January 1, 2018, New York launched the strongest and most comprehensive Paid Family Leave policy in the nation ensuring that both parents, regardless of gender, can bond with a new child and care for family in times of need, without risking their economic security.
In 2017, Governor Cuomo signed Executive Order 161, prohibiting state entities from asking the salary history of prospective employees.
In 2016, the Governor raised the statewide minimum wage to $15, which will impact an estimated 2.3 million people.
In 2015, Governor Cuomo announced a first-of-its-kind statewide Task Force to root out worker exploitation issues in multiple industries in New York. Now permanent, the Joint Task Force on Worker Exploitation and Employee Misclassification has launched more than 16,000 wage theft and misclassification cases across more than a dozen industries impacting over 150,000 workers.