NYC Bars Must Serve Pregnant Women

It's discrimination not to, say new guidelines
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2016 8:12 AM CDT
NYC Bars Must Serve Pregnant Women
NYC bartenders have to ignore the bump.   (Shutterstock)

A pregnant woman walks into a bar and orders a glass of wine. The bartender serves it up, she drinks it, end of story. Uncomfortable, contentious, debatable or not, the bartender is now required to serve her in New York City, according to new guidelines from the city's Human Rights Commission, which note restaurants and bars can't refuse alcohol or entry to expectant mothers, per the New York Times. "Judgments and stereotypes about how pregnant individuals should behave, their physical capabilities, and what is or is not healthy for a fetus are pervasive in our society and cannot be used as pretext for unlawful discriminatory decisions," read the guidelines, meant to clarify anti-discrimination protections for pregnant women under the city's existing human rights law, per ABC News. Mayor Bill de Blasio calls it one of the strongest anti-discrimination laws in the US, per CBS New York.

Medical groups such as the American Academy of Pediatrics say women shouldn't drink while pregnant, and bars are required by state law to post warnings that drinking while pregnant can cause birth defects. But officials say only a mother-to-be has the right to decide whether she drinks, and about 10% of pregnant women do, according to the CDC. The guidelines also note restaurants and bars can't refuse to serve pregnant women high-risk foods like raw fish and soft cheese. And they'll "enable pregnant employees to understand their rights so they can request reasonable accommodations without fear of retaliation," the commission chair says in a statement. Those "reasonable accommodations" include light duty, unpaid leave, and adequate bathroom breaks on the job. (The dangers of drinking while pregnant are outlined here.)

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