On September 3, 2014, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter signed into law the Breastfeeding Accommodation Bill, No. 130922, as a part of the Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance. The new law is effective immediately, and it requires businesses with one or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations for women needing to pump breast milk in a safe, sanitary and private non-bathroom space as long as the requirements do not impose an undue hardship on the employer. In addition, employers have to provide unpaid breaks or allow employees to use paid breaks or mealtimes to express breast milk. The Philadelphia law covers all employees, expanding previously enacted federal protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which requires break time only for non-exempt nursing mothers to express breast milk.
The amended ordinance identifies the following factors to be considered in determining what constitutes an undue hardship:
- The nature and cost of the accommodation;
- The overall financial resources of the employer's facility or facilities involved in the provision of the reasonable accommodations, including the number of persons employed at such facility, the effect on expenses and resources or the impact of such accommodations on the operations of the employer;
- The number of the employer's employees and the number, type and location of its facilities; and
- The type of operation or operations of the employer.
The breastfeeding bill was authored by City Councilman David Oh in an attempt to clarify the preexisting public accommodation provisions for pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, including breastfeeding, to address the needs of working women. It received unanimous support from the Philadelphia City Council. For more information on the preexisting pregnancy discrimination protections, please see our prior Duane Morris Alerts on the topic:
- Philadelphia Amends Fair Practices Ordinance to Require Reasonable Accommodations for Pregnancy and Childbirth (March 10, 2014)
- Philadelphia Employers Required to Provide Written Notice of Employment Law Protections for Pregnant Women by April 20, 2014 (April 10, 2014)
What This Means for Employers
Employers in Philadelphia, in addition to being required to consider requests for accommodations from employees related to pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions, should ensure they are providing breastfeeding employees with the time and space to express breast milk at work. Philadelphia employers should review their policies to confirm that they reflect the new legal requirements for breastfeeding employees and should ensure that managers and supervisors are aware of the legal implications of this new law. In addition, Philadelphia employers should continue to review their equal employment opportunity, reasonable accommodation and leave policies, as well as related training materials, to ensure that pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions are listed as protected classes (if they are not included already).