New Requirement For Employers Doing Business In Philadelphia Takes Effect April 20, 2014

Written by: Natalie Klyashtorny

A new requirement will take effect this weekend that will impact all employers doing business in the City of Philadelphia.

Starting Sunday, April 20, 2014, an employer must provide written notice to all employees of a new amendment to Philadelphia’s Fair Practices Ordinance of the employees’ right to be free from discrimination in relation to pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions and the right to ask for a “reasonable accommodation” related to pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions.

An employer can also comply with the notice requirement by posting the notice in the employer’s place of business in a conspicuous location accessible to all employees.

The new law will allow pregnant women and new mothers to request a “reasonable accommodation” from their employer without fear of being fired or otherwise retaliated against.

Under the law, reasonable accommodation is defined as “an accommodation that can be made by an employer in the workplace that will allow the employee to perform the essential functions of the job.” Examples of reasonable accommodations include, but are not limited to, restroom breaks, periodic rest for those who stand for long periods of time, assistance with manual labor, leave for a period of disability arising from childbirth, reassignment to a vacant position, and job restructuring.

An employer must provide such reasonable accommodations as long as they do not impose an undue hardship, as defined under the Fair Practices Ordinance, on the employer. The employer will have the burden of proving “undue hardship” of compliance.

The employer may also assert a so-called affirmative defense to compliance by demonstrating that, even with the reasonable accommodation, an employee could not satisfy the requisites of the job.

Employers violating this new requirement under the Fair Practices Ordinance can be fined as much as $2,000.00 per violation.