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City Council bill would protect people experiencing domestic violence from discrimination

On Tuesday Pittsburgh City Council took up a bill that would extend a prohibition on workplace discrimination to include people who are experiencing domestic violence. Councilor Erika Strassburger introduced the bill. She said that though many employers are understanding about the needs of workers going through those issues, there still isn't formal protection for workers whose bosses are unsympathetic.

"If they are experiencing days that they have to take off and take sick days, or are arriving late to work," Strassburger said, "or are the model employee, but for some reason they're being discriminated against because of this position they're in in their life, that's not right."

The city already protects those experiencing domestic violence from housing discrimination. But Strassburger said that for many, a steady job could be the key to leaving a dangerous situation.

"When it comes to someone who is working to escape an abusive relationship, it's incredibly important to have as much stability as possible, and to be able to establish financial independence is incredibly important," she said.

Strassburger said that sometimes people experiencing domestic violence may deal with harassment, or need access to the court system. And that could be a years-long process.

"It takes the average person experiencing an abusive relationship about seven times to successfully leave," she said. "What this does is ask for employers to provide reasonable accommodations and considerations for employers who disclose that they are experiencing domestic violence."

Council is set to discuss the ordinance next week.