On June 27, 2018, New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that he would be directing the New York State Division of Human Rights to investigate allegations of pregnancy discrimination revealed in a recent New York Times article. The article reported on alleged pregnancy related discrimination against woman employed at several major companies including Walmart, Merck, Novartis and Glencore.
The article highlighted the companies’ systematic discrimination against pregnant employees by passing them over for promotions and raises, and firing them shortly before or after having a child. The Division of Human Rights will send letters to Walmart, Merck, Novartis and Glencore requesting information about the claims of pregnancy discrimination reported in the article. The companies will have until August 1, 2018, to respond to the information requests. The State will then decide whether to subpoena the companies for more records or file administrative complaints against them seeking damages.
As a result of the accusations, New York State is launching an education and outreach campaign for employees to know their rights and for employers to know their responsibilities to prevent unlawful pregnancy discrimination. The Division of Human Rights will run ads on the New York City subways to raise awareness about pregnancy discrimination and that will direct people to a newly implemented New York State website and hotline that victims can use to report employers to have engaged in discriminatory practices.