PHILADELPHIA, April 30, 2014 – For people whose primary language is not English, the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations has released new materials to help educate them about new protections for workers that are pregnant or new mothers.
In addition to English, PCHR has issued a poster offering a basic explanation of the recent amendments to the Fair Practices Ordinance in Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Vietnamese, French, Haitian Creole, Russian and Khmer. The languages selected are among the most commonly used by non-English speakers in Philadelphia. The posters are available electronically for download on the PCHR site.
The Fair Practices Ordinance serves as the guiding civil rights legislation for the city and now includes a provision that says employees who are pregnant or recently gave birth can ask for reasonable workplace accommodations without fear of losing their jobs.
Requests generally deemed reasonable under the new law include asking for bathroom or rest breaks, access to water, assistance lifting items or re-assignment with manual labor duties, for example.
The law also explicitly states that accommodations are not to cause an undue burden on employers.
Employers were to offer notification of the law by April 20. PCHR and area chambers of commerce have been helping businesses secure notification posters.
“So many of the people who stand to be impacted by this law are immigrants – either entrepreneurs or low-wage workers – who may not be as familiar with city regulations, let alone new ones,” said Rue Landau, PCHR executive director. “We take our responsibility to educate as seriously as our responsibility to enforce. We know most people don’t want to break the law. More times than not, they just don’t know about it.
“Likewise, for the tens of thousands of women out there doing their best to balance work and motherhood, this is an incredibly important piece of legislation that they need to know about – even if English is not their first language.”
The new provisions are geared toward those who are pregnant, nursing, or in some stage of post-natal recuperation. In January, Mayor Michael A. Nutter enacted the amendment, authored by City Councilman William K. Greenlee. The action added Philadelphia to a list of jurisdictions stretching from California to New York that are reconsidering how to prevent sex discrimination. The sizable numbers of women heading households and cited cases of women working under conditions hazardous to their health for fear of losing their income helped propel action on this issue. PCHR is the local government agency charged with its enforcement.