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Strassburger legislation combats pregnancy discrimination in employment

 


Last week, Pittsburgh City Councilperson Erika Strassburger announced the introduction of legislation to safeguard employment protections for pregnant employees, individuals seeking to become pregnant, and their partners.

In addition, the City of Pittsburgh’s Commission on Human Relations released an accompanying Guidance Document to empower employers to take steps to prevent discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions and events.

“Employees should not be forced to choose between their livelihood and their reproductive decisions. My legislation ensures that pregnant workers, regardless of whether they work in a corporate office, a retail store, or a warehouse, can work in a safe and comfortable environment, attend medical appointments, and sustain a healthy pregnancy without fear of losing their job or benefits,” said Councilperson Strassburger. “I encourage employers citywide to review the Guidance Document to help prevent pregnancy-based discrimination from ever occurring.”

Councilperson Strassburger’s legislation would explicitly prohibit employment discrimination against pregnant individuals, those seeking to become pregnant, and their partners before, during, and after the nine-month gestation period and after childbirth. This change to the City Code may require employers to provide reasonable modifications to employees’ workspaces and offer justifiable flexibility in scheduling to allow employees and their partners to attend procedures, tests, and other appointments associated with pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions. A copy of the legislation is available at https://goo.gl/GkZgzU.

With this change, Pittsburgh would become one of the first jurisdictions nationwide to clearly safeguard employment protections for the partners of pregnant employees. Additionally, the legislation would make Pittsburgh one of few cities to guarantee employment protections for related events that occur before, during, and after gestation and after childbirth. 

“While pregnancy discrimination claims were previously brought under the protected class of ‘sex’, this new legislation makes clear to pregnant individuals and their partners the rights and protections they have under the law. In the past, we believe employees were unsure of their rights and often did not file a claim, even when they felt they were discriminated against,” said Megan Stanley, deputy director of the City’s Commission on Human Relations.

“We urge anyone who feels they may have been treated unfairly based on their own or their partner’s pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions or events, to contact the Commission. We hope this legislation will help create an even more equitable Pittsburgh.”

The Commission on Human Relations’ Guidance Document helps employers to better understand their rights and responsibilities when it comes to employees who are pregnant or seeking to become pregnant and their partners. The Guidance Document provides examples of discriminatory policies and behavior and describes types of reasonable accommodations to work stations, schedules, and job duties that may be required of employers.

The document also offers direction on the “interactive process,” which seeks to ensure mutual fairness for employees and employers and lists best practices for employers to create internal policies to combat pregnancy discrimination. The Guidance Document is available at https://goo.gl/rHy9gK and will be posted on the Commission on Human Relations website. 

“This legislation represents an important effort to make existing law more effective in offering protection for local workers. By explicitly advocating for pregnancy fairness, Councilperson Strassburger’s office is addressing the reality that many gender-based employment discrimination complaints are related to pregnancy,” said anupama jain, executive director of the City’s Gender Equity Commission. “This represents one area in which American workplaces still struggle to be inclusive of all genders, with reproductive issues and childcare needing to be systematically addressed so that diverse groups have access to sustainable employment.

“This legislation and the CHR’s Guidance Document also empower employers by offering them greater clarity about their own expectations and requirements. Legislation like this makes Pittsburgh a national leader in helping residents thrive by removing barriers to their fullest participation in economic opportunities.”

Those who feel they may have been treated unfairly are encouraged to call the Commission on Human Relations (CHR) at 412-255-2600 or visit http://pittsburghpa.gov/chr/ for more information. The CHR also offers free training and resources for employers.

 

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