Legislation would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees who are pregnant or have a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth

Council will also vote on legislation to make city stronger and more resilient against storms like Sandy

New York, NY- Today, the City Council will vote to amend the City’s Human Rights Law to prohibit pregnancy discrimination in the work place. The legislation would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees, and would allow individuals to file a complaint with the Commission on Human Rights or bring an action in court against their employer if they believe they have been discriminated against.

The Council will also vote on a package of legislation to better prepare New York City for future storms. The bills are the result of the work of the Building Resiliency Task Force, convened by the Council, to provide recommendations for building a stronger, more resilient city.

Pregnancy Discrimination

The Council will vote on a bill (Intro 974-A) to amend the City’s Human Rights Law to prohibit discrimination at work based on an employee’s pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition. After the Council’s bill is law, women will be able to request reasonable accommodations from their employers so that they can maintain a healthy pregnancy.

The bill would also require the Commission on Human Rights to educate the public about pregnancy discrimination and create a written notice regarding employees’ rights for employers to distribute to their employees.

“No woman should ever be forced to choose between the health of herself or her baby and her job,” said City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “This bill will ease the burden on pregnant women by making it easier for them to request accommodations without fear of repercussions. I thank Council Member Vacca and the many advocates who worked hard on this legislation on behalf of the women of New York City and their families.”

“Today, I am proud to be the sponsor of legislation that will obligate employers to provide a reasonable accommodation to pregnant women, as long as it does not cause an undue hardship,” said Council Member James Vacca. “Thanks to A Better Balance, I was made aware of instances in which pregnant women were denied accommodations at the workplace, such as an extra bathroom break. A glaring gap in the human rights law blocked action in some cases, which is unacceptable. This legislation will provide a timely and proactive channel for a woman to seek these necessary accommodations. A woman should not have to sacrifice the health of her unborn child for her job, nor should she be forced out of work because she is pregnant.”

Building Resiliency Task Force Legislative Package

The bills the Council will vote on today are the first step in the culmination of the work of the Building Resiliency Task Force.

“As we approach the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, we’re reminded that we’ve come a long way over the past several months, but we still have much further to go in order to safeguard our infrastructure and protect our residents from future storms,” said Speaker Quinn. “I want to thank the Task Force, made up of the Urban Green Council, and industry stakeholders, for their hard work and invaluable contributions to these bills.”

The Council will vote on a bill (Intro 1088-A) to require the City to undertake a study and pilot on the use of permeable materials on streets and sidewalks. The study and pilot, to be performed by the Departments of Transportation (DOT) and Environmental Protection (DEP), would review numerous factors, including cost, durability and the volume of water necessary to divert from the City’s sewer system. The pilot will examine different types of roadway and sidewalk conditions to assess the potential to use permeable materials in order to absorb storm water and reduce storm water runoff.

“In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, we already know the danger that severe flooding poses to property, critical infrastructure, and most importantly, lives. Permeable surfaces would also significantly reduce the amount of storm water that drains into storm sewers, which would mitigate street flooding from rainstorms, and improve coastal water quality by reducing combined sewer overflows,” said Council Member James F. Gennaro. “With climate change making the threat of storms like Sandy even more likely, exploring permeable surfaces for thousands of miles of City streets and sidewalks to absorb storm water and reduce runoff has never been more important. I would like to thank Council Speaker Quinn for being an invaluable partner in the City Council’s nation-leading environmental efforts.”

To keep homes in flood-prone areas safe from sewage backups, the Council will also vote on legislation (Intro 1098-A) to require that new or substantially improved buildings in flood-prone areas to install backwater devices to prevent public sewage from backing up and getting into buildings.

“Today we’re taking common sense measures to ensure that New York City is more resilient than ever. Intro 1098 does just that by keeping sewage flow out of city streets and floodwaters out of buildings,” said Council Member Donovan Richards. “Obviously Hurricane Sandy has taught us a great deal about the improvements we must make and I’m grateful to have a great partner in Speaker Quinn, who continues to ensure that this city will be left better than we found it.”

Additionally, the Council will vote to update the City’s plumbing code to make sure automatic faucets and toilets can operate in the event of a power outage. This legislation (Intro 1086-A) will alleviate the impact of utility outages by ensuring that these faucets and toilets can function manually or with a battery for at least two weeks without access to external power.

“Electronic sinks and toilets can be great for convenience and the environment, but that’s all down the drain if they don’t work when the power goes out. Because even when there’s no electricity, nature’s calls still get through. This bill will ensure that a working sink and toilet will be nearby when you need it and I am proud to see we are flush with good ideas on how to make our City more resilient against future outages and disasters. I want to thank Speaker Quinn for her leadership on these bills and my colleagues for their hard work,” said Council Member Lew Fidler.

Another bill in this package (1105-A) would give the Office of Long-term planning and Sustainability (OLTPS) the responsibility to develop plans to make the city more resilient to natural disasters. It would add resiliency of critical infrastructure, the built environment, coastal protection and communities to the list of subjects OLTPS must develop policies, programs, and actions to address.

Finally, to end confusion about the City’s flood construction and protection requirements, the Council will vote on a bill (Intro 1095-A) to require the Department of Buildings (DOB) to create a manual explaining those requirements. The manual would cover both old and new flood requirements, and will be made available on DOB’s website in English and Spanish.

Flood Insurance Resolutions

The Council will also vote on three resolutions today – two of which seek to minimize the burden of future flood insurance premium rate increases on property owners. Another resolution to be considered supports federal legislation to make cooperative and condominium associations eligible for federal grants following major disasters.