Another approval alternative came down from NYSIF for PEF member Tessa Shanley. Six months pregnant, Shanley received a note from her doctor stating he felt it would be safer for her to continue working from home while pregnant due to the pandemic. Because of limited research on the vaccine’s potential effect on unborn children, she isn’t vaccinated.

Shanley submitted a request for reasonable accommodation and the initial answer was NYSIF needed more medical documentation indicating how her disability would limit her job performance.

“I have no disability, my issue is that I’m pregnant,” Shanley told the agency. “This puts me at increased risk for severe illness due to COVID-19. I again explained my stance on receiving the vaccine while pregnant and how my doctor felt it would be safer to continue working from home.”

NYSIF pressed on with its suggested alternative — moving Shanley’s seat to a less trafficked area of the office.

“They stated how if they accommodated me by letting me work from home they would have to accommodate everyone else,” she said. “She also said I could charge accruals instead of going to the office. I said no, I can’t, since I’m saving time for maternity leave. We don’t get any paid family leave.”

Shanley can’t afford to appeal, she said, since NYSIF requires members to charge accruals during the appeal process.

“I just accepted their ridiculous ‘approval alternative’,” Shanley said.