Insight

Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission to Accept Complaints of Discrimination Based on LGBT Status

Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission to Accept Complaints of Discrimination Based on LGBT Status

Debbie Rodman Sandler

Debbie Rodman Sandler

May 9, 2019 10:21 AM

By: Debbie Sandler

Federal law and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act prohibit employment discrimination based on certain “protected classes,” including race, religion, disability and sex (among others). Neither sexual orientation, nor gender identity or similar classifications are specifically included in the statutes themselves. However, recent case law has seen an evolving definition of what it means to be discriminated against “because of sex,” with various courts applying a test that examines if an individual has been discriminated against because they do not meet the traditional societal expectations of what it means to be a man or a woman.

This month, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (the Commission), the state agency tasked with investigating complaints of discrimination in employment, housing, education and public accommodations, issued a guidance announcing an expanded definition of what it considers to be discrimination based “on sex.” The Commission added sexual orientation and gender identity to its definition of protected groups, meaning that the Commission will investigate complaints of discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, gender transition, transgender identity and/or gender expression.

Employers need to be mindful of the trend toward expanding the reach of anti-discrimination laws and to make sure that their recruiting, hiring, promotion, discipline and termination procedures are compliant with federal, state and local laws in all jurisdictions in which they operate.

For additional information or guidance on ensuring compliance with these laws and regulations, please contact Debbie Sandler (sandlerd@whiteandwilliams.com; 215.864.6203) or another member of the Labor and Employment Group.

Related Articles

WATCH: A Landmark Win for LGBTQ Rights


by Best Lawyers

Two top employment attorneys join the CEO of Best Lawyers to discuss the landmark Supreme Court ruling protecting gay and transgender employees.

Panel: LGBTQ SCOTUS Ruling

Same-Sex Couples and Marriage Visas: Everything You Need To Know


by Elizabeth Hagearty

All marriages are considered equal under U.S. law. Here’s what that means for LGBTQIA+ immigrants.

Pride flag, finger and visa document

A Double Dose of Power


by Constance Endelicato

Women in the Legal and Medical Professions Can Work Together to Dismantle Gender Inequality

Women Work to Dismantle Gender Inequality

Racial Discrimination Suit Against NFL May End in Arbitration


by John Ettorre

A former Miami Dolphins head coach is up against the NLF in a discrimination case that is on a path to arbitration; the NFL remains focused on equality for their diverse coaching staff.

Arbitrating Discrimination Suit Against NFL

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers: Family Law Publication


by Best Lawyers

Featuring the top legal talent in Family Law and Trusts & Estates.

Announcing Best Lawyers Family Law 2022

A Balancing Act


by Joseph Milizio

New York State recently passed a landmark law that expands LGBTQ couples’ ability to start a family while protecting surrogates’ rights.

Surrogacy Rights for LGBTQ Couples

Fostering Acceptance


by Cassandra Biron

Those looking to be a foster or adoptive parent for LGBTQ youth must understand which kinds of support are most beneficial to parent and child alike. Happily, resources are now more widely available than ever.  

Resources for Fostering LGBTQ Youth

Champions of Change: Record Breaking LGBTQ Olympic Athlete Representation


by Rebecca Blackwell

LGBTQ Olympic Athletes Make History

All Together With Pride: The Best Lawyers Team Volunteers During Pride Month


by Megan Edmonds

Offering time, muscle power, donations and more, the Best Lawyers team supports local advocacy groups’ events.

The Best Lawyers Team Volunteers During Pride

Porter Wright Founds LGBTQ+ Practice


by Megan Edmonds

At the beginning of Pride month, U.S. law firm Porter Wright announced the addition of an LGBTQ+ practice area group.

Porter Wright Founds LGBTQ+ Business Practice

Morrison & Foerster Attorney Randy Bullard’s LGBTI Advocacy


by Greg Sirico

Randy Bullard, a Best Lawyers® listed attorney practicing at Morrison & Foerster, is an LGBTQI advocate and pioneer for change around the world.

Morrison & Foerster Attorney Randy Bullard's

Foster Garvey Celebrates Inclusion During Pride Month


by Greg Sirico

A law firm is honoring the diversity and inclusivity of all employees with a new policy for preferred names and pronouns.

Foster Garvey Celebrates Pride Month

The Fighter From New York


by Justin Smulison

Benedict Morelli discusses recent successes and high-profile casework.

Morelli Law Firm

Jamie Gorelick Gets It Right


by Meredith Hinshaw-Chaney

Jamie Gorelick on politics, justice, and the rule of law.

Jamie Gorelick on the Rule of Law

The Revolution in People Management


by Michelle V. Rafter

Organizations are changing how they find, manage, and review workers to keep up with shifts in demographics, new technology, competition for top talent, and the evolving nature of work.

Change Management

Trending Articles

Announcing the 2023 The Best Lawyers in America Honorees


by Best Lawyers

Only the top 5.3% of all practicing lawyers in the U.S. were selected by their peers for inclusion in the 29th edition of The Best Lawyers in America®.

Gold strings and dots connecting to form US map

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America for 2023


by Best Lawyers

The third edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America™ highlights the legal talent of lawyers who have been in practice less than 10 years.

Three arrows made of lines and dots on blue background

Announcing the 2023 The Best Lawyers in Canada Honorees


by Best Lawyers

The Best Lawyers in Canada™ is entering its 17th edition for 2023. We highlight the elite lawyers awarded this year.

Red map of Canada with white lines and dots

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers® in the United States


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers listed in the 28th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America® and in the 2nd Edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America for 2022.

2022 Best Lawyers Listings for United States

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in Canada 2023


by Best Lawyers

The year 2023 marks the second edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in Canada, highlighting professionals earlier in their legal careers all across Canada.

Blue background with white stairs formed out of lines

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers in Canada™


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers listed in the 16th Edition of The Best Lawyers in Canada™ and 1st Edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in Canada.

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers in Canada™

Famous Songs Unprotected by Copyright Could Mean Royalties for Some


by Michael B. Fein

A guide to navigating copyright claims on famous songs.

Can I Sing "Happy Birthday" in Public?

Choosing a Title Company: What a Seller Should Expect


by Roy D. Oppenheim

When it comes to choosing a title company, how much power exactly does a seller have?

Choosing the Title Company As Seller

What the Courts Say About Recording in the Classroom


by Christina Henagen Peer and Peter Zawadski

Students and parents are increasingly asking to use audio devices to record what's being said in the classroom. But is it legal? A recent ruling offer gives the answer to a question confusing parents and administrators alike.

Is It Legal for Students to Record Teachers?

All Eyes to the Ones on the Rise


by Rebecca Blackwell

Our 2023 honorees recognized in Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch™ in America tell us more about how their path to law formed, what lead them to their practice areas and how they keep steadfast in their passion to serve others.

Person walking between glass walls towards window

The Real Camille: An Interview with Johnny Depp’s Lawyer Camille Vasquez


by Rebecca Blackwell

Camille Vasquez, a young lawyer at Brown Rudnick, sat down with Best Lawyers CEO Phillip Greer to talk about her distinguished career, recently being named partner and what comes next for her.

Camille Vasquez in office

Caffeine Overload and DUI Tests


by Daniel Taylor

While it might come as a surprise, the over-consumption of caffeine could trigger a false positive on a breathalyzer test.

Can Caffeine Cause You to Fail DUI Test?

Announcing the 2022 "Best Law Firms" Rankings


by Best Lawyers

The 2022 “Best Law Firms” publication includes all “Law Firm of the Year” recipients, national and metro Tier 1 ranked firms and editorial from thought leaders in the legal industry.

The 2022 Best Law Firms Awards

Wage and Overtime Laws for Truck Drivers


by Greg Mansell

For truck drivers nationwide, underpayment and overtime violations are just the beginning of a long list of problems. Below we explore the wages you are entitled to but may not be receiving.

Truck Driver Wage and Overtime Laws in the US

Press and Publicity: How Television and Social Media Impact Legal Careers


by Justin Smulison

In recent years, with social media giving minute by minute reporting, many lawyers are finding themselves thrust into a spotlight they never planned for. How are lawyers grappling with unexpected stardom, media coverage and merciless influencers?

Close up of camera at news station

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch – The Future of Legal Talent Looks Bright


by Justin Smulison

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch is launching its second edition in the United States, and after talking with both a company leader and esteemed lawyers on the list, the importance of this prestigious list is evident.

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America 2022