• City of Philadelphia Adopts Pregnancy Accommodation Ordinance - February 20, 2014
  • February 26, 2014 | Author: David J. Freedman
  • Law Firm: Barley Snyder - Lancaster Office
  • Employers who operate in the City of Philadelphia have new employment law obligations regarding pregnant employees. On January 20, 2014, Mayor Michael A. Nutter signed an ordinance amending Philadelphia’s Fair Practices Ordinance to expand legal protections for pregnant employees.

    Specifically, the amendments prohibit discrimination against employees based on “pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.” Additionally, the amendments require employers operating in the City to provide “reasonable accommodations” to employees due to “pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition,” provided an employee requests such accommodations and such accommodations do not impose an undue burden. Examples of reasonable accommodations include restroom breaks, periodic breaks from standing, assistance with manual labor tasks, childbirth-related leave, reassignment to a vacant position, and job restructuring. Covered employers must also provide employees with written notice, in a form to be determined by the Philadelphia Commission on Human Rights, regarding the prohibition against pregnancy discrimination and the right to reasonable accommodation. Employers found liable for violating the Fair Practices Ordinance can be sued in court and ordered to pay lost wages, other compensatory damages, punitive damages, civil penalties, and attorney’s fees.

    By imposing reasonable accommodation requirements parallel to those found in the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Philadelphia ordinance appears to provide greater protection to pregnant employees than explicitly provided for under state or federal laws applicable to pregnant employees, such as the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Employers with operations in Philadelphia should consider updating their current employee handbook or personnel policies to reflect the reasonable accommodation requirements for pregnant employees.

    The ordinance became effective January 20, 2014, the day it was signed into law.