Even though same-sex marriage has been legal in Pennsylvania for over two years, the LGBTQ community continues to face obstacles. One area that is still very much an active battleground is the workplace. Civil rights activists and the establishment continue to clash over the rights of LGBTQ employees. Currently, LGBTQ workers are not protected under federal law, meaning that an employee could face LGBTQ discrimination. Recently, Governor Tom Wolf has taken some steps to protect these workers.
Governor Wolf issued an executive order that prohibits sexual orientation discrimination in future state contracts and grants with third parties. After signing the order, he referenced William Penn and his vision of an open, inclusive, diverse commonwealth.
In addition to this executive order, a bill was recently introduced in the state legislature that addresses workplaces throughout the state—not just government contracts, like Governor Wolf’s Order. Senate Bill 1306 proposes to update the state’s Human Relations Act. Currently gender orientation, gender identity, and gender expression are not protected in employment, housing, business and government services. Senate Bill 1306 sets out to change that. Although the bill has been progressing through committee hearings, there is little hope about its eventual passage.
A Potential Conflict with Religious Freedom
Some fear that the bill will infringe upon religious groups’ ability to hire people who follow the teachings of the church. According to Dr. Robert O’Hara, Jr., executive director of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, the bill would allow the state to dictate which beliefs the church is allowed to uphold in its ministries.
Other interest groups support the spirit of the bill, but are concerned that it will result in even more litigation costs for already indebted businesses. According to Alex Halper, director of government affairs for the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, no individual should be fired, denied employment, or treated unfairly because of their sexual preference or gender identity. However, the workplace situations that trigger discrimination claims tend to be more complicated than meets the eye.
Currently, over 30 municipalities in Pennsylvania have nondiscrimination ordinances that cover members of the LGBT community, but there is still a long way to go and a lot of ground to cover.
Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates P.C. Fight for LGBTQ Employees Victimized by Sexual Harassment at Work
Although we still have a long way to go, LGBTQ employees have rights in the state of Pennsylvania. If you identify as LGBTQ, and have suffered from adverse employment action, hostile work environment, or sexual harassment, you may be entitled to compensation. Any employee aggrieved by discrimination has recourse to vindication in a court of law. To discuss your case, call the Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates at 215-569-1999 or complete an online contact form today. We proudly serve clients throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.