Staying abreast of current trends

Posted: September 05, 2014

IT WAS A breast-feeding mother who suffered the judgment of others that led to legislation signed into law yesterday giving working moms a leg up.

Councilman David Oh sponsored the bill after representing a woman who had a baby and returned to work but wanted to pump breast milk, which her employer allowed.

But, Oh said, "she was harassed [by colleagues] to the point where she was driven to quit her job.

"There's no reason why she should have been harassed and not allowed to express milk," Oh said of the case, which he handled as a lawyer before being elected to office. "This law protects women, and in doing so, it advances our society."

Yesterday, Mayor Nutter signed the bill, which requires businesses with one or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations for women needing to pump breast milk in a safe, sanitary, private, non-bathroom space. The law, which takes effect immediately, states that the employer must provide unpaid breaks or mealtimes.

While existing legislation "included a public accommodation provision for breast-feeding, it did not include guidelines to address the unique needs of working women," Nutter said.

"This legislation will clarify existing legislation regarding sexual discrimination in the workplace."

JoAnne Fischer, executive director of the nonprofit Maternity Care Coalition and an advocate of the measure, attended a City Hall news conference yesterday. Fischer said the bill signing was "a long time coming."

"We are really thrilled to know that women in Philadelphia will have a new level of protection as they breast-feed their babies," she said.

"This really does represent a major milestone for the rights of working families and represents a shift of focus towards the rights of those mothers."

On Twitter: @RuffTuffDH

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