Pittsburgh City Council Moves to Protect Pregnant Workers

A new measure passed by Pittsburgh lawmakers would require employers to "reasonably accommodate" pregnant workers' medical requests.

A new measure introduced by Pittsburgh lawmakers would require employers to "reasonably accommodate" pregnant workers' medical requests. Shutterstock

Pittsburgh has joined Philadelphia as yet another Pennsylvania city improving conditions for pregnant workers.

City council members Dan Gilman and Deb Gross introduced a bill last month that requires employers to make “reasonable accommodations” for pregnant workers, such as granting pregnant workers access to drinking water, uncompensated breaks, and help with heavy lifting requirements if necessary, according to Pittsburgh Public Radio.

The bill was passed Tuesday. It will provide temporary job restructuring and modified work schedules for pregnant workers, but states that accommodations should not interfere with “essential job functions” or present “undue hardship” for the employer.

“There are examples in Pennsylvania where women have needed to either have a stool to sit down more during pregnancy, keep a water bottle to make sure they’re hydrating during pregnancy, take more regular breaks, and they’re being fired for these actions,” Gilman told Pittsburgh Public Radio.

Three-quarters of women entering the labor force will be pregnant on the job at some point in their lives, and issues of workplace accommodations for pregnant workers increasingly affects low-wage workers, according to a national report.

Congress failed last year to pass legislative protections for pregnant workers. Since then, a growing number of states and municipalities have passed their own protections similar to those introduced Wednesday in Pittsburgh.

Those locations include Philadelphia, New York City, Delaware, Maryland, Minnesota, and New Jersey.

The question of what duty employers have to accommodate pregnant workers will be before the U.S. Supreme Court later this year, as the Roberts Court considers the case of Peggy Young, a part-time delivery driver who claims UPS forced her to take unpaid leave rather than accommodate her request for a temporary, light-duty job assignment.

Oral arguments in that case will begin in December.