• David Manes

Discrimination protection in Pennsylvania: gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens

Today was an historic day for Pennsylvania as a U.S. District Judge struck down an 18 year-old ban on same sex marriages in PA. This ruling clears the way for same sex couples to marry freely in Pennsylvania. This news is guaranteed to gloss the front page of newspapers across the state and fill the radio waves of Pennsylvania. Soon every Pennsylvanian will know that their state has granted greater rights to the LGBT community when it comes to same sex marriage. But what many Pennsylvanians don’t know is that certain regions of PA have already taken steps to provide greater civil rights to the LGBT community. These regions protect LGBT employees from being discriminated against by their employers on the basis of sexual orientation. If you happen to live in one of these regions you can exercise those rights if you have been the target of discrimination.

Sexual orientation protection in PA

Pennsylvania has a statewide law that grants protection against discrimination on the basis of race, age and gender, but that law does not include protections for sexual orientation or gender identity. This leaves members of the LGBT community vulnerable and without any legal recourse if they have experienced discrimination.

Thankfully, certain regions of Pennsylvania have expanded the rights of the LGBT community by enacting special protections for those who are discriminated or retaliated against. This law protects against discrimination by their employers on the basis of sexual orientation. If you live in PA and have been discriminated against by your employer on the basis of your sexual orientation you may be able to sue them in order to enforce your rights.

Regions of Pennsylvania where you can sue on the basis of LGBT discrimination

There are 12 large cities and 34 municipalities total in Pennsylvania where you can sue if you have been discriminated against on the basis of your sexual orientation or gender identity. All of these municipalities have enacted local ordinances to grant wider protections to LGBT citizens. Not all of them protect for gender identity, but they do all provide protection for sexual orientation. The 12 large cities with these protections are:

  1. Philadelphia

  2. Pittsburgh

  3. Allentown

  4. Erie

  5. Reading

  6. Scranton

  7. Bethlehem

  8. Lancaster

  9. Harrisburg

  10. York

  11. State College

  12. Easton

The 2 counties with extra protection are:

  1. Allegheny County

  2. Erie County

There are also 20 small towns that have similar protections. The municipalities with these protections are:

  1. Abington Township

  2. Cheltenham Borough

  3. Conshohocken Borough

  4. Doylestown Borough

  5. East Norriton Township

  6. Easton

  7. Haverford Township

  8. Jenkintown Borough

  9. Lancaster

  10. Lansdowne Borough

  11. Lower Merion Township

  12. New Hope Borough

  13. Newtown Borough

  14. Pittston

  15. Springfield Township

  16. State College Borough

  17. Susquehanna Township

  18. Swarthmore Borough

  19. Upper Merion Township

  20. West Chester

  21. Whitemarsh Township

What does LGBT discrimination look like?

Some types of LGBT discrimination are blatant and obvious. For instance, if your boss uses a gay slur and then fires you because you are homosexual, you will know that you have just been discriminated against. But most of the time, discrimination is much more subtle and nuanced. For example, you may be an excellent employee, but for some reason you are always passed up for a promotion in favor of a less qualified candidate. If this denial of promotion was based on the fact that you are a member of the LGBT community, you may have been discriminated against. Discrimination is not always easy to spot, but if you have reason to believe it has happened to you, it is worth it to contact an attorney and see if you have a case.

How does the process work if I bring suit against my employer for LGBT discrimination?

The laws governing discrimination suits require that each claim be processed and investigated by a government agency before the individual is granted the right to sue in Pennsylvania’s state court. If you live in the City of Pittsburgh you would file your initial claim with the City of Pittsburgh’s Commission on Human Relations. If you live outside the city, but within Allegheny County, you would file your claim with the Allegheny County Human Relations Commission. Each of these agencies would process your claim and may make attempts at mediation and reconciliation. If an amicable solution cannot be met, then after 6 months from the day you filed you may request to have the right to sue granted. Once a right to sue letter is issued, you may take your case to the state’s courts and proceed toward a trial. The threat or eventual realization of a trial can be a powerful weapon in receiving justice if you have been discriminated against. That is why it is important to consult with experienced discrimination attorneys before, or during the process.

How Kraemer, Manes and Associates can help you

If you have been discriminated against on the basis of your sexual orientation or identity, and you live in one of the protected regions, Kraemer, Manes and Associates can help. The attorneys at our firm have experience in multiple areas of employment discrimination including sexual orientation, race, age, gender and more. We specialize in the representation of employees and bring a higher level of dedication to cases of this nature. No person should have to stand by silently while they are discriminated against. We can get help you to get compensation, equitable actions and most importantly, a sense of justice. Call Kraemer, Manes and Associates for a free consultation anytime during regular business hours.

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