Philadelphia City Council voted unanimously today to enact a new measure to protect nursing mothers in the workplace, a move hailed by the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations.
The breastfeeding bill, authored by City Councilman David Oh, would make it illegal for a Philadelphia employer not to reasonably accommodate a female employee’s need to lactate or pump breast milk at work. Companies would have to provide nursing mothers clean, private spaces to pump at work; bathrooms are not suitable substitutes under the proposed law. Mayor Michael A. Nutter is expected to sign the measure into law shortly, updating the Fair Practices Ordinance, the city’s guiding civil rights law.
Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations Executive Director Rue Landau, who testified on behalf of the bill, offered the following comments on today’s vote:
“While the Fair Practices Ordinance includes protections in this area, this law would make explicit the rules of the road for all employers. Passing these laws highlight the fact that we want pregnant women and new mothers to be safe and healthy in the workplace, and that they have equal value. That’s important because some 2 in 3 women in Philadelphia are co- or primary breadwinners for their households.
“That number includes nursing mothers, and more than 7 in 10 mothers breastfeed their children at some point, with nearly 4 in 10 mothers nursing exclusively during the first three months after childbirth, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
“In the past few months, Philadelphia has taken impressive measures to protect pregnant women and new mothers, allowing them to care for their families without risking harassment or their jobs. Moves like this solidify why we are a world-class city.”
PCHR educates about and enforces the city’s Fair Practices Ordinance, which protects residents and visitors from discriminatory practices in employment, housing and public accommodations. Sex discrimination cases are among those investigated by PCHR.