On January 20, 2014, Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter signed into law an amendment to the Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance, expanding local law employment protections for pregnant women. The amendment, which became effective immediately, requires Philadelphia employers to provide accommodations to an employee for needs related to pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition provided that the accommodation will not cause an undue hardship to the employer, as well as extends the Ordinance's protections based on gender to pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition.
Under this amended Ordinance, employers are required to make reasonable accommodations available for female employees affected by pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition when such employees request an accommodation unless providing the accommodation would cause an undue hardship to the employer. The amended Ordinance identifies the following factors to be considered in determining what constitutes an undue hardship:
The nature and cost of the accommodation;
The overall financial resources of the employer's facility or facilities involved in the provision of the reasonable accommodations, including the number of persons employed at such facility, the effect on expenses and resources or the impact of such accommodations on the operations of the employer;
The number of the employer's employees and the number, type and location of its facilities; and
The type of operation or operations of the employer.
The Ordinance also requires Philadelphia employers to provide written notice of the right to be free from discrimination in relation to pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions and the right to reasonable accommodations related to pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions to all new and existing employees within 90 days of the effective date of the Ordinance, April 20, 2014, and to post the same notice conspicuously in an area accessible to employees.
What This Means for Philadelphia Employers
Though discriminating against applicants or employees on the basis of pregnancy has been unlawful under federal and state law prior to this recent amendment, employers in Philadelphia are now required to consider requests for accommodations from employees related to pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions, and to provide requested accommodations unless doing so would cause an undue hardship on the employer. Philadelphia employers should review their equal employment opportunity, reasonable accommodation and leave policies, as well as related training materials, to ensure pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions are listed as protected classes (if they are not included already). Philadelphia employers also should provide and post the required notice as provided by the Ordinance.