PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh is a trailblazer in protecting the rights of pregnant women and their partners. A new law took effect in the City of Pittsburgh in April that protects employees throughout pregnancy, and it’s one of the first in the country to offer those protections to the women’s partners as well.
Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Erika Strassburger is nine months pregnant with her first child. She knows how challenging it can be to get to doctor’s appointments and prepare for the baby while working full time. Unlike her employer, she knows many women don’t have employers who make accommodations for their pregnancy.
“It’s something that I absolutely can empathize with, at this point, even more than I did before,” Strassburger says.
Strassberger introduced legislation that passed this month protecting all women who work for a company with five or more employees in the City of Pittsburgh, before, during and after pregnancy.
What’s groundbreaking is that the woman’s partner is covered too, regardless of gender or domestic arrangements.
“That’s something that’s pretty trailblazing,” says Strassburger. “It’s not something that we’ve seen in a lot of other cities or other states, so we’re one of the first in the country to do that.”
That means a partner would be protected for things like attending fertility treatment appointments or helping if a woman has post-partum depression.
Strassberger also sees this as an economic justice issue. A study from the Women and Girls Foundation found that 77 percent of impoverished households in the City of Pittsburgh are headed by single moms who need the income to support their families.
“They’re really the sole breadwinner out there for their family,” Strassburger says. “It’s incredibly important that they have a recourse if they feel as if they’re not being treated fairly, because they don’t have the luxury, especially in that case, to speak out and risk getting fired.”
Strassburger feels this law can help women in the fight for pay equity too, protecting them from not only losing their job when they’re pregnant but even from getting passed over for a promotion because of their pregnancy.
“Pregnancy can cost you a lot of money if your employer isn’t willing to give you the accommodations that you need and the flexibility you need to take time off to be with your child, raise your raise your child, and also be able to come back to work and re-enter the workforce at the same place at the same level that you were at before you might have taken some leave.”
The new law also gives women a full year to come forward to the Commission on Human Relations with any concerns. To do that, visit this link.