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6 mo. preg NYC - small office employer ? New York

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  • 6 mo. preg NYC - small office employer ? New York

    I have been working in a very small office (so FMLA doesn't apply) for 4 months. I found out I was pregnant (it was unplanned and we consider it a miracle) AFTER I started my job. Here are the facts:

    Approached prior to being 3 months pregnant b/c my employer noticed I had a "glow". I admitted I had recently found out I was pregnant and assured them I truly didn't know until after I had started my job. Since then everything has gone okay except they don't give me a straight answer on their maternity policy b/c they state that each employee is different and they "haven't decided yet".

    I was approached this week by the office manager who claimed I have seemed "unavailable" at work. I asked her for specific examples as I am ALWAYS available and she said she didn't have any but just that it "seemed" that I haven't been around.

    I then mentioned I need 3 vacation days between now and when I go out on maternity leave, that they are not consecutive days, and who should I submit them to. She stated OUT OF THE BLUE that I don't accrue vacation for the 1st year. This is NOT what was agreed upon when I got hired nor was it ever mentioned to me or stated in writing. I asked her where that was coming from and explained I would never accept a job that I don't receive any vacation days through the 1st year and she backed down and said she'd work it out.

    What are my options? How should I handle this? I assume they are trying to change my vacation b/c they don't want to pay me out any days. Should I ask for clarification via email about my vacation or back off?

    Truth is, I will probably only get the minimum state maternity of ~$200 per wk for 6 weeks. If I got laid off, I'd get unemployment which is more.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated...Thanks

  • #2
    With very small companies, often there aren't any specific policies, because they just don't run into the situation that much.

    If you have some type of contract or enforceable promise that guarantees the vacation is earned as you perform the labor AND that you can use the vacation as earned AND when you need it, you may be out of luck. Employers don't have to offer paid vacation so in your state, they can pretty much set their own rules.

    You cannot be treated differently than other similarly-situated employees who would need the same amount of time off due to a nonpregnancy reason (for example, a broken arm, or surgery), but you don't have to be given special dispensation either. And if the employer doesn't have at least 15 employees total, they aren't even subject to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act; I don't know if your state has anything similar that might provide you more protection than the PDA.

    BTW, I think the max NY disability benefit is only $170.
    Last edited by Pattymd; 10-19-2007, 09:26 AM.
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    • #3
      State discrimination laws in NY start at 4 employees.
      The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by cbg View Post
        State discrimination laws in NY start at 4 employees.

        WOW!!! Thanks, I wasn't sure. Does NY have its own version of the PDA?
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        • #5
          I don't want to make things worse at work but should I bring up that I feel I'm being treated differently and the terms that were originally discussed with me upon my employment (vacation etc) seem to be changing now and I can only attribute that to being pregnant?

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          • #6
            If NY has their own version of the PDA, I have never seen it. But even without one, since pregnancy is a protected characteristic under state law, IF Gwen is being treated differently than similarly-situated employees who need non-maternity leave BECAUSE OF her pregnancy, she would have recourse at the state level, even though due to the size of the company she would not have recourse at the Federal level.

            Gwen, yes, I would talk to whoever handles your HR or benefit issues about your concerns. If you do eventually submit a claim to the state for pregnancy discrimination, it will go a long way in your favor that you gave the company a chance to resolve the situation.

            Please do keep in mind, however, that Patty is quite correct that some very small employers do not have specific polices for issues that do not come up frequently. With a company as small as yours, it is not impossible that they have never dealt with the situation before and are flying by the seat of their pants, as it were, rather than deliberately discriminating.
            The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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            • #7
              Thanks for the info. They have over 15 employees and had quite a run of employees that got pregnant. In fact, the office manager stated to me that they've been "burned" in the past and that's why they haven't decided yet what my maternity leave will be...

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              • #8
                Note to self: Do not drink the water in New York.

                Congratulations, Gwen.
                I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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                • #9
                  I must have mixed up your post (or your previous one) with someone else's. For some reason I had it in mind that they had only 12 employees.
                  The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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                  • #10
                    N.Y. doesn't have a pregnancy leave statute separate from its family leave law, but antidiscrimination law requires that employers treat pregnancy as they do other disabilities. The fam. leave law requires employers to provide the same leave & terms of leave to employees who take a leave of absence for the birth of a child, an adoption, or commencement of the parent-child relationship. No max. or min. time requirements are included in the law, but the leave must be the same for the birth & adoptive parents. Pd. leave isn't required, but if provided, it must be the same for birth & adoptive parents. State law doesn't provide protection to employees with respect to seniority or benefits, and it doesn't guarantee employment on return. It also has no notification or certification requirements. Covered employers - all employers.
                    Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

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