Philadelphia Employment Discrimination

Philadelphia Employment Discrimination

Philadelphia Attorneys Advocating for Employee Rights

When you go to work, you hope that you will be judged on the merits of your work and your job performance. Unfortunately, some employers are guided more by stereotypes about race, age, ethnicity, color, religion, sex/gender, and other elements of identity than they are by merit. Federal, state, and local laws prohibit employment discrimination in Philadelphia workplaces. If you have suffered from employment discrimination at the hands of your employer, it is critical to consult a Philadelphia employment discrimination lawyer. At Phillips & Associates, we understand how the nuances of the different potentially applicable laws may affect whether you recover damages and the size of your recovery. We have compassion for workers who have been mistreated due to their personal and protected traits.

Defining Employment Discrimination

Discrimination occurs when an employee is treated adversely in the workplace due to a protected characteristic. For example, if you are hired, fired, passed over for a promotion, demoted, paid differently, or put in non-customer-facing positions because you are a Black Muslim from Somalia, you may have a basis to sue for racial, religious, and nationality discrimination.


Harassment is one form of discrimination. Most of the time, harassment is actionable because it creates a hostile work environment. This means that the harassing conduct is either so severe or so pervasive that it alters the work environment. In most cases, trivial or one-off incidents will not constitute actionable harassment. However, sexual harassment need not create a hostile work environment to be actionable. An employment discrimination attorney in Philadelphia can help you recover damages for quid pro quo sexual harassment, such as when a supervisor or manager conditions your new or continued employment on providing sexual favors or submitting to sexual advances. For example, if your supervisor tells you that you can get a raise if you start dating him, this is quid pro quo sexual harassment.

Federal Law

There are a number of federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects race, color, sex, national origin, and religion. It covers employers that have at least 15 employees. It also caps compensatory and punitive damages. It is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits discrimination against employees who are at least 40 years old. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination and harassment against employees with disabilities.

Many employees feel concerned about pursuing claims of discrimination or harassment. They are understandably worried that employers will try to punish them for filing a charge with the EEOC or complaining in civil court. Each of the federal anti-discrimination laws includes a prohibition on retaliation. Retaliation can include any adverse employment action taken against you. Our Philadelphia employment discrimination attorneys can help you bring a claim for retaliation in addition to the underlying discrimination.

State Law

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) covers employers that have a minimum of 4 employees. Like the federal law, it has a provision that prohibits your employer from retaliating against you because you opposed a discriminatory job practice or helped with any proceeding, hearing, or investigation under the state law. Protected classes include race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age from 40-70, disability, having a GED instead of a high school diploma, association with a disabled person, and use of a service animal. A drawback of pursuing your claim under state law is that you cannot recover punitive damages under state law. However,

Local Law

The Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance also prohibits employment discrimination. Under the local ordinance, protected traits include race, color, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, breastfeeding, national origin, religion, ancestry, age, disability, marital status, genetic information, familial status, source of income, domestic or sexual violence victim status, pregnancy, childbirth, and pregnancy-related conditions.

Neither federal nor state law in Pennsylvania prohibits sexual orientation discrimination, although some courts have regarded sexual orientation discrimination as a subset of sex/gender discrimination, which is prohibited under both federal and state laws. However, the Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Contact an Experienced Employment Discrimination Lawyer in Philadelphia

If you have been harmed by employment discrimination at a job in Philadelphia, you should consult the employment litigators at Phillips & Associates. You can call us at (866) 229-9441  or complete our online form to set up a free consultation.

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