Pennsylvania Bill Would Ban Sexual Orientation Discrimination on the Job

The Declaration of Independence was signed at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. (Photo by istockphoto.com)

By Eric B. Meyer

Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have laws banning workplace discrimination in the private sector on the basis of sexual orientation.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which currently bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in public employment, may soon become the latest state to ban it in the private sector as well.

(The term “gender identity or expression” means actual or perceived gender identity, appearance, behavior, expression or physical characteristics whether or not associated with an individual’s assigned sex at birth).

Poll shows public support

A bill to amend the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act to add these workplace protections was introduced last week in the Pennsylvania Senate with some bipartisan (but mostly Democratic) support. The same bill was introduced in the Pennsylvania House the week before. Each measure would also carry the same restrictions in housing, credit and public accommodations.

While prior attempts to get similar legislation passed in Pennsylvania have failed, a recent poll indicates support for this measure throughout the Commonwealth. Plus, many large cities, including Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, have LGBT workplace laws.

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And, even without a law on the books statewide, many large employers have led by example. According to the Human Rights Campaign, as of April 2013, 434 (88 percent) of the Fortune 500 companies had implemented non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation, and 282 (57 percent) had policies that include gender identity.

Gov. Tom Corbett’s position on these bills is unclear.

This was originally published on Eric B. Meyer’s blog, The Employer Handbook.

You know that scientist in the action movie who has all the right answers if only the government would just pay attention? Eric B. Meyer, Esq. gets companies HR-compliant before the action sequence. Serving clients nationwide, Eric is a Partner at FisherBroyles, LLP, which is the largest full-service, cloud-based law firm in the world, with approximately 210 attorneys in 21 offices nationwide. Eric is also a volunteer EEOC mediator, a paid private mediator, and publisher of The Employer Handbook (www.TheEmployerHandbook.com), which is pretty much the best employment law blog ever. That, and he's been quoted in the British tabloids. #Bucketlist.

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