COLUMBIA - Pregnant women and mothers could be included in Columbia’s discriminatory ordinance soon. The Commission of Human Rights is asking the city council to consider new language for an existing ordinance to provide additional protections against workplace, housing and public accommodation discrimination.
“Sex and gender discrimination is something that definitely occurs in the workplace,” discrimination attorney Chris Miller said.
The new protections would be based on pregnancy, childbirth, related medical condition, and/or familial status.
“This would put them [city council] in modern times in providing employment protections for women who are pregnant and/or recently had children,” Miller said.
As of right now, Chapter 12 of the city code reads “To prohibit discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, marital status, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.”
The chair elect of the Commission of Human Rights, Zach Rubin, said, “it’s creating a new protective category of people that could potentially face discrimination.”
He said the commission doesn’t want to see discrimination based on a woman’s decision to have a child or not, or for a woman to care for a child or not.
According to Rubin, expanding the ordinance would adopt protections that are encased in federal law. This would be make the proposed ordinance more relevant and comprehensive to a local context, he said.
Miller said a change in the ordinance would give an additional layer of protection to women in Columbia.
The city council is expected to look at the ordinance at its next meeting on Monday.