Phillips & Associates

Philadelphia Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Employment Lawyers Protecting the Rights of Philadelphia Residents

Over 60,000 residents of Philadelphia identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer. Philadelphia is considered one of the cities in the U.S. that is most friendly to LGBTQ people. Still, workplace discrimination does occur on the basis of a worker's sexual orientation. If you suffer harm from sexual orientation discrimination at your office, you should consult an experienced Philadelphia sexual orientation discrimination lawyer. At Phillips & Associates, we are ready to help you pursue your claims.

Grounds for Sexual Orientation Discrimination Claims

Neither federal nor Pennsylvania laws provide express protection against sexual orientation discrimination. However, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has interpreted Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include sexual orientation discrimination as a subset of sex/gender discrimination. This interpretation is based on Supreme Court caselaw about gender stereotypes. In one case, the Commission reasoned that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation necessarily involves treating a worker differently due to sex. It is also sex discrimination because when an employee alleges sexual orientation discrimination, their claim is that the employer treated them differently because of associating with a person of the same sex.

Examples of Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Sexual orientation discrimination can occur in many different ways. For example, if you are not hired because you mention that you are a lesbian, this would be sexual orientation discrimination. For another example, if you are denied a promotion because you are gay, this would also be sexual orientation discrimination. Similarly, if your boss tries to pay you a lower salary and denies you spousal health insurance benefits because you have a same-sex partner, a sexual orientation discrimination attorney in Philadelphia can help you bring a claim.

Another form of sexual orientation discrimination consists of comments made toward an employee due to his or her sexual orientation, such as coworkers using anti-gay slurs or make disparaging remarks about your sexuality. If your employer does not take corrective measures, you may be able to hold your employer liable under Title VII for the hostile work environment. Note that Title VII only applies to employers that have at least 15 employees. Moreover, compensatory and punitive damages are capped based on the size of the employer.

State Laws

District courts in Pennsylvania have reached different conclusions about whether sexual orientation is implicitly a protected characteristic under Title VII. Likewise, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) does not expressly prohibit sexual orientation discrimination. However, taking its cue from the EEOC, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission has taken the position that it will take and investigate sex/gender stereotyping claims filed by LGBTQ individuals.

The Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance

The City of Philadelphia has enacted a Fair Practices Ordinance that forbids discrimination in the area of employment, among other areas, and more specifically, expressly forbids sexual orientation discrimination. The Commission can investigate complaints, conduct hearings, order remedies, and settle sexual orientation discrimination claims. To win an employment discrimination case, your Philadelphia sexual orientation discrimination attorney will need to show by a preponderance of the evidence that you were subjected to unfavorable treatment in Philadelphia, by an employer that was subject to the Fair Practices Ordinance, because of your actual or perceived sexual orientation. Be aware though that your complaint generally has to be filed within 300 days of the date of the discriminatory conduct. More importantly, it is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for, reporting sexual orientation harassment to HR, or for filing a complaint or participating in the Commission's complaint investigation process.

If the Commission decides that there is a finding of probable cause of sexual orientation discrimination, and the employer and employee cannot reach a voluntary resolution, there will be a public adjudicatory hearing. If liability is found, an employee may be able to recover emotional distress damages, out-of-pocket damages, punitive damages (if the company's actions are found willful, wanton, or in reckless disregard of the employee's rights, as well as possibly injunctive relief.

Hire a Dedicated Sexual Orientation Discrimination Lawyer in Philadelphia

If you believe that you have been subjected to sexual orientation discrimination at your job, you should consult the experienced employment litigators at Phillips & Associates. Contact us at (215) 315-7694 or via our online form to set up a free consultation to find out how we can help.


PHILLIPS & ASSOCIATES
1635 Market St #1600A
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Phone: (215) 315-7694
Fax: (212) 901-2107

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I was a client with this law firm. I can't stress enough how awesome and professional the people are here. Silvia & Erica made me feel so comfortable and welcome. I never had to guess anything. Anytime I call, emailed, or even texted. They were always there. If not they would get back to me as soon as possible. My case was not an easy situation for me but I tell you these guys made it seem like it was. I'm so glad that I use Phillip & Phillip. I thank you guys from the bottom of my heart. I am so grateful to have met such awesome, honest, and caring people. Thank you again. Djuana
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