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By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia businesses would be required to give pregnant workers more frequent breaks and places to sit down, under a measure given initial approval today by a City Council committee.

Reynelle Staley of the city’s Human Relations Commission said pregnant workers in many workplaces sometimes see their jobs threatened.

“Jackie was a waitress a local restaurant.  She was pregnant and had to use the restroom frequently due to morning sickness.  Her employer terminated her, saying she turned into ‘a different person,’ ”  Staley related.

Approved in committee was a bill authored by Councilman Bill Greenlee that mandates workplace protections for pregnant workers in the city:

“Things like letting women take a little extra break, letting them drink water at their workplace, using restrooms a little more frequently: that kind of thing (that) most employers do anyway.  But, unfortunately, sometimes we have to pass a law that deals with employers who do not do the right thing,” Greenlee said.

Greenlee’s measure imposes those requirements on city businesses.  Among those speaking in support was Amal Bass, an attorney at the Women’s Law Project.

“The health and economic security of women and their families should not be placed at risk simply because a pregnant worker needs a glass a water or help lifting a box,” Bass said.

The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, which often resists new mandates imposed by City Council, did not appear at the hearing.

The measure now goes to the full Council, where approval is expected next month.

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