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Pittsburgh bars employers from discriminating against domestic violence victims

Sarah Kovash
90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council this week passed legislation that would bar employers from discriminating against workers who are experiencing domestic violence.

The bill, introduced by Councilor Erika Strassburger, requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for domestic violence victims. Those accommodations could include excusing lateness, making changes to email and phone extensions, providing security measures, and allowing time off for things like court dates or medical appointments.

"There's a whole set of employer guidance's that the Commission on Human Relations has established," Strassburger said.

The bill defines domestic violence as a range of behaviors, from physical assault to the causing of emotional distress, including intimidation, stalking, and threats of harm. Guidance accompanying the legislation that employers will be barred from taking action against workers if, for example, an abusive partner appears at the workplace and causes disruptions.

The city also has an anti-discrimination ordinance that protects those experiencing domestic violence from discrimination when it comes to housing. That 2016 legislation bars landlords or property owners from evicting or denying housing to domestic violence victims.

"This would extend existing protected class which currently exists for housing non-discrimination," Strassburger said. "So you cannot discriminate against someone if they disclose that they are a victim of domestic or partner violence when it comes to renting an apartment or selling them a house. This would extend that to employment."

The workplace protections passed council unanimously Tuesday, and now awaits Mayor Bill Peduto's signature.