Notes from the Neighborhood
Compiled by Anam Baig, Megan Bungeroth & Sean Creamer EAST SIDE LAWMAKERS PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF PREGNANT WORKERS Last week, Upper East Side Rep. Carolyn Maloney joined three Democratic co-sponsors in introducing new federal legislation that would protect pregnant women against unfair job discrimination. Maloney joined fellow New York City Rep. Jerrold Nadler and two others in presenting the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. The bill is supported by 119 advocacy groups from across the nation and has 63 original cosigners. The law would require employers to give reasonable working accommodations for pregnant women and prevent employers from forcing these women onto leave, paid or not, when a reasonable adjustment can be made to their workload. The bill will also relinquish hiring discrimination toward women who are pregnant and in need of certain accommodations related to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. "Women need to work during pregnancy and must not be penalized in the workplace for choosing to have a child," Maloney said. "The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will give women the tools they need to fight 'maternal profiling' on the job." The bill follows the introduction of a similar measure at the state level from State Sen. Liz Krueger. "When pregnant women cannot be provided reasonable accommodations at their workplace, they lose wages and opportunities for advancement, their newborns are disadvantaged and both their employers and the economy as a whole suffer unnecessary losses," Krueger said. The sponsors of the national bill cite recent examples of pregnant women losing their jobs after asking for minor accommodations, like carrying a water bottle or help with certain physical tasks, as the impetus for creating the protections. UES RAPIST CONVICTED Last summer, the Upper East Side was terrorized by several different perpetrators of sexual assaults, and early last week, a man arrested for two of those crimes pleaded guilty to rape and sexual abuse. Jason Quinones, 22, who was 21 at the time of the attacks, admitted to raping a woman in her East 90th Street home last August. He climbed through the window of her ground floor apartment at 4:30 a.m. while she slept, grabbed her cell phone to keep her from calling the police and raped her. Quinones was arrested several days later based on DNA evidence left at the scene, and was later charged with another sexual assault that had taken place in July on East 83rd Street. He told prosecutors that he approached his first victim from behind in her building and forced her into her apartment, where he pushed her onto a couch and sexually abused her. District Attorney Cyrus Vance admonished Quinones for committing "atrocious sex crimes." "In both cases, he saw a chance to sexually assault a woman while she was vulnerable, and both times, he took it," Vance said. Quinones is scheduled to be sentenced June 20 and could face up to 25 years for the class B felony rape conviction, as well as up to 7 years for the sexual abuse conviction. MORE DELAYS FOR EAST SIDE ACCESS The Long Island Railroad is subject to delays and shuttle use, but if customers want to make use of the proposed Grand Central Terminal, they will have to invest in time travel. Last week, MTA chairman Joe Lhota explained that the tunnel may not be completed until 2019-six years after the proposed completion date. An official from the MTA stated that construction is underway around the active tracks in Sunnyside, Queens, where Amtrak, LIRR and NJ Transit operate trains. Lhota said the engineers and workers who are tunneling underground in Queens have encountered serious issues that will set back the construction of the connection. The project was originally supposed to be finished in 2013, but a change in contractors, loose ground in Queens and aneed to keep trains running to meet the demands of a traveling workforce have repeatedly pushed back the completion date. SLA HITS EAST SIDE RESTAURANT WHERE IT HURTS Local activists are finding creative ways to push back against rogue food delivery cyclists who flout the laws and endanger pedestrians. After the community rallied against the liquor license application for an Upper East Side Chinese restaurant because it allowed its delivery men to ride illegal motorized bikes, the State Liquor Authority denied the establishment's application. The New York Post reported on the hearing in Albany last week for Adam's Chinese Restaurant (which does business as Vicky's Cottage) on East 91st Street, noting that this is the first time that the SLA has denied a license based on non-alcohol-related issues. When owner Denny Dong told the SLA that he couldn't control what his delivery men did after they left the restaurant, they didn't take kindly to the suggestion that he wasn't responsible for his own workers. "What else don't you have control over, your employees selling to underage people?" an SLA official asked, according to the Post. "If you can't control your employees, we can't grant a license." Community Board 8 has been trying to get the restaurant to comply with traffic laws and prohibit its deliver workers from reckless driving and riding electric bikes, and members have been mulling ways to convince restaurants that the community is serious about cracking down on dangerous biking-a sentiment that the SLA is clearly backing.
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