by Gloria Dulan-Wilson

Mayor Michael Nutter's decision to sign legislation protecting women's rights in the workplace is a major step in the right direction, and sends a clear signal that Philadelphia values the quality of life for all its residents.  When the announcement came yesterday, I initially thought - this is truly deep women have been at least 50% of the population for eons, yet there are still so many cities out there who relegate them to second class - even third class - citizens when it comes to providing for natural needs.

It speaks volume that not only is the Mayor signing the legislation into law, but that it will take place immediately - ushering in a new era in workplace quality and equality.   Kudos to Mayor Nutter, Councilman Oh, and all those who made this legislation a reality.

Stay Blessed &
Gloria Dulan-Wilson

Mayor Michael Nutter

 New legislation requires employers to accommodate the need of individuals to express breast milk while at work.

Mayor Michael A. Nutter, joined by Councilman David Oh, members of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR) and women’s health advocates, signed into law legislation establishing that it is an unlawful business practice for an employer with one or more employees to fail to provide reasonable accommodation for an individual’s need to express, or to pump, breast milk in a safe, sanitary, non-bathroom space. 

“As parents, our first priority is to care for our families.  This legislation not only allows mothers to provide vital nourishment to their babies, but also protects their right to express breast milk in an appropriate environment without stress or fear,” said Mayor Nutter.  “Together with our Parental Leave policy for City workers, and our pregnancy accommodation ordinance, the new policy strengthens our Administration’s commitment to mothers and families across the city.  I want to thank Councilman Oh, the PCHR and the community advocates for taking up this important issue.”

Bill No. 130922 will take effect immediately.  As defined by the legislation, a reasonable accommodation includes providing unpaid break time, or allowing an employee to use paid break time, mealtime, or both to express breast milk.  This legislation applies to all employers in the City, so long as it does not cause an undue hardship on an employer.

“The bill addresses the issue of treating people fairly and on their merits.  It’s a Constitutional right and it’s smart,” said Councilman David Oh.  “Success for women in the workplace is critical for Philadelphia to have a competitive economy.  Women who are mothers should be able to be successful, happy, and fulfilled in the workplace.”

Rue Landau, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Human Relations Commission, added, This new law adds essential job protections for working mothers and their families.  Now, women who return to work after childbirth can express milk at their jobs in safe, private, sanitary spaces.  Couple these new breastfeeding provisions with the recently enacted law to provide reasonable job accommodations for pregnant workers, and women are protected at work from pregnancy through childbirth and breastfeeding.  That’s a huge win for female employees, their families, and Philadelphia’s economy.” 

Philadelphia is now added to states that protect women's rights in the workplace
 JoAnne Fischer, Executive Director of the Maternity Care Coalition, said, “We are delighted with this legislation. Despite the fact that the health benefits of breastfeeding to both mom and baby are well documented, MCC hears countless accounts of working mothers given inadequate break times, lack of private space or even being forced to pump their milk in bathrooms. It is a breakthrough for the rights of working parents that the City of Philadelphia now considers it a requirement to provide support to breastfeeding moms who are a valuable and productive part of the city’s workforce.”
“GSK creates and supports a vibrant working environment with accommodations that help working mothers successfully transition back to work and integrate their lives,” said Letizia Amadini Lane, Vice President, Employee Value Proposition at GSK.  “For example, the lactation rooms we have provided for more than 15 years enable our employees to do the right thing for their children while continuing to be leaders in the workforce.”

Those who reside in the 26 other states in the US that have not provided for breastfeeding moms should be noting this as election time comes near.  Motherhood is a special phenomenon that is an integral part of humanity - but has been treated as though it was some sort of curse for eons.  In point of fact, while no one gets here without a mother, the luxury of being a stay at home mom is not always possible for low and moderate income families.  Providing them the accommodations that make it possible for them to be both good parents and good employees is essential as we progress into the twenty first century.  Those legislators who deny this very important right have no business representing citizens, many, if not most, of whom are women.

Now that you know, what will you do about it?

Stay Blessed &
Gloria Dulan-Wilson 

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