October 17, 2014 — Pittsburgh's City Council last week passed a measure (Ordinance 2014-0809) that will expand workplace protections for city workers who are pregnant, the Pittsburgh City Paper reports.
The ordinance will require the city and contractors that hold more than $250,000 in city contracts to facilitate "reasonable accommodations" for pregnant employees, such as access to drinking water, unpaid breaks and allowing employees to sit while working.
The measure applies to more than 800 city employees and an undetermined amount of contract workers, according to Pittsburgh City Councilor Dan Gilman, one of the measure's co-sponsors. Although the ordinance applies only to city employees and contractors, the City Paper notes that the ordinance could spur similar safeguards at the state level and spark larger conversations about factors related to working during and after pregnancy.
Gilman noted, "The number of complaints being filed [against employers] by women across Pennsylvania was on the rise," adding that he hopes the ordinance "sends a message to pregnant women that they have rights in the workplace."
Meanwhile, state Sen. Matt Smith (D), who sponsored a similar measure in the state Legislature, said reasonable accommodation measures are "a great first step before moving on to addressing other issues facing women in the workplace" (Nuttall, Pittsburgh City Paper, 10/15).