New guidelines unveiled by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Human Rights Commissioner Carmelyn Malalis have made it illegal for establishments to discriminate against pregnant women by refusing them alcohol, raw fish, or even access to their premises. “Judgments and stereotypes about how pregnant individuals should behave…cannot be used as pretext for unlawful discriminatory decisions,” read the guidelines. The new guidelines also ensure that employers not discriminate against pregnant employees by looking past them for promotion, not providing adequate bathroom breaks, or denying them “reasonable requests,” such as reassignment of strenuous activities and unpaid leave to recover from childbirth.
A similar law passed in New York State in 2014 required employers to provide pregnant employees with “reasonable accommodations at work,” but a report by the National Women’s Law Center found over 75 percent of low-wage workers reported their employers to be non-compliant. Federal health officials recommend total abstinence from alcohol during pregnancy, even while some studies show that light alcohol use is unlikely to negatively impact a fetus.
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