Union Leads Legal Battle Against MTA Over Pregnancy Discrimination

The TA Surface Department, where 20% of the workforce are women of childbearing age, has witnessed a troubling pattern of denied accommodations for pregnant workers. Despite legal protections at the city, state, and federal levels, numerous employees within the department have been met with resistance when requesting minor adjustments to schedules or job structures, adequate meal breaks, or access to restroom facilities. "The MTA's negligence in providing reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers is an egregious failure. It's high time they acknowledge their duty to ensure the safety and well-being of all employees, especially during pregnancy. Anything less is a shameful betrayal of trust and an affront to basic human rights," said Richard Davis, President of TWU Local 100.

This issue extends beyond the TA Surface Department. Pregnant workers in various roles throughout the MTA/NYCT face similar challenges when seeking accommodations to support their health and well-being during pregnancy. As the Agency hires more and more women into traditionally male-dominated jobs, their lack of action to accommodate them has become more and more visible. "This issue is fundamentally an issue of discrimination. Why do female operators have to suffer for doing something that is —as far as I know […] biological.” Said John Paul Patafio, TA Surface Vice President. The refusal of the MTA to provide reasonable accommodations has left many pregnant employees feeling unsupported and endangered. 

Instead of offering necessary adjustments to ensure their safety and well-being, the MTA routinely forces them to take unpaid leave when requesting accommodations for a healthy pregnancy. A small number of “restricted duty” positions has been established for some subway workers, but this is not enough, Mr. Davis said. “Women are having to choose between their health and their ability to earn a living,” he added. "They give us ten days [of light duty work] and a lot of us are not being approved.” Said Latoya Christian, a pregnant Bus Operator. "I got a letter of termination. I didn't know that you can get terminated for being pregnant or having a child.”

Gary Rosario, Division Vice Chair for Bus Operators at TA Surface, says protecting the rights of pregnant workers comes under the heading of human rights. He called on each MTA Board Member to consider that “they also have moms, daughters, and daughter-in-laws who have become pregnant while working." Giselle Martinez, Chair of the Working Women's Committee of TWU Local 100, shared her personal experience of a a pregnancy on the job. "I had a miscarriage on the job while I was on probation because of the probationary period,” she said. “We are not supposed to take any sick days, no days off. We don't have anything to rely on to continue getting paid."

Theresa Rodriguez, a Bus Operator who is currently eight months pregnant said, ”I'm basically left to my own devices. My savings have been depleted. I've been struggling to pay my bills, feed myself, and, even with my insurance, I still have copayments, which I'm currently behind on as well” As the lawsuit progresses, TWU Local 100 remains steadfast in its commitment to achieving justice for all workers. With President Davis leading the charge, alongside dedicated members and officers from the TA Surface Department, the union's legal action represents a pivotal moment in the fight against pregnancy discrimination within the MTA.