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Philadelphia Employers: Notice to Employees of Pregnancy Related Accommodations

On April 4, 2014 by Schnader in Labor and Employment

By Rebecca Lacher

Under the Fair Practices Ordinance enacted earlier this year and discussed here, Philadelphia employers have less than three weeks to provide individual written notification to employees that affirms the right of employees to be free from discrimination and to receive reasonable accommodations in relation to pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions. Employers also may post a notice that summarizes employee rights under the ordinance that recently was approved by the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations. However, posting alone will not satisfy the notice requirements of the ordinance.

What Do Philadelphia Employers Have to Do?

  • Provide written notice by April 20, 2014. The Commission approved a poster in late March, available here, that, if distributed both to current employees and to all new hires going forward, will satisfy the notice requirement. The ordinance does not require public posting, but instead states that in addition to distributing individual notices, employers may post the notice conspicuously in an area that is accessible to all employees.
  • Train managers and human resources personnel on how to reasonably accommodate women based on pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition. Accommodations under the ordinance include, but are not limited to: restroom breaks; periodic rest for employees who stand for long periods of time; assistance with manual labor; leave for a period of disability arising from childbirth; and, reassignment to a vacant position.
  • Review handbooks and policies to update reasonable accommodation policies and procedures and ensure notice of the ordinance is provided to all new hires.

Employers with employees in jurisdictions outside of Philadelphia should review applicable laws for each facility location as other states and municipalities have passed similar laws with varying requirements. For example, New Jersey requires accommodation if the employee requests such accommodation on the advice of a physician and Maryland requires consideration of “all possible means of providing the reasonable accommodation,” including a complete change of job duties. While reviewing and revising policies to include the new requirements for pregnancy accommodations, employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act should ensure they are providing nursing mothers the required reasonable break time to express milk in a space that is free from intrusion for one year after the child’s birth.