Employment Discrimination Attorney in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Some states had begun passing anti-discrimination laws regarding public accommodations prior to the federal government’s landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, which extended protections to the workplace. The Civil Rights Act focused on what it perceived to be protected classes, which originally consisted of the categories of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.
Since then, the Civil Rights Act has been reinterpreted and expanded by court decisions and rulemaking, and has been joined by a slew of other federal anti-discrimination laws with specific categories, or protected classes, such as disability, pregnancy, military status, age (over 40), and more.
In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) echoes the Civil Rights Act in its protections against discrimination in employment, housing, commercial property, education, and public accommodations. The Civil Rights Act is enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the PHRA by the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC).
If you feel you have been discriminated against at work in or around Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, contact us at H. Rosen Law, P.C. We will fight for your rights and protections under the law in an effort to hold those accountable who discriminate. You will receive personalized attention from our employment law/discrimination attorney. H. Rosen Law, P.C. also serves clients throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania including Harrisburg and Scranton.
The Civil Rights Act protects not only employees but also job applicants and former employees who were affected while employed or afterward. Discrimination by the EEOC is defined as policies or practices that have a “disproportionately negative effect” on applicants or employees.
Say a business runs an ad for warehouse workers, but the ad uses the phrase “young and strong.” This could exclude—discriminate against—older individuals in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which protects workers over 40.
Another example: A retailer promotes only young, good-looking women to be managers because that is “the face of the company” that the owner prefers. This would be in violation of the Civil Rights Act’s prohibition of discrimination based on sex. What about men and older women?
Those are just two examples, but the Civil Rights Act also protects against discrimination in discharge, firings, and layoffs; job assignment; pay; reasonable accommodations for a disability; benefits; promotion; job training; and protecting medical and genetic data information.
Discrimination under the law also includes harassment. Retaliation, which many employees fear and are thus hesitant to come forward in issues of discrimination, is also prohibited and protected against. In fact, of all the charges—complaints—received by the EEOC each year, the top-ranking one is routinely retaliation.
Anti-Discrimination Protections Expanded
The Civil Rights Act originally protected only the classes or categories of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Sex has now been expanded to include gender identity and sexual orientation. The Civil Rights Act has been augmented by subsequent legislation, such as the ADEA mentioned above, and all fall under the purview of the EEOC.
These augmenting acts include the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Equal Pay Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).
Disparate Impact vs. Disparate Treatment
Disparate impact occurs when company practices or policies that appear to be neutral have a disproportionate impact on a particular group. Disparate treatment is intentional employment discrimination. Both fall under the purview of the EEOC and PHRC and are considered discriminatory.
Can You Sue Your Employer for Discrimination?
Both the EEOC and the PHRC require that you file a charge with their agencies before you can take any legal action on your own. No matter which agency you file the charge with, there is a sharing mechanism in place, and the agencies will decide which one—the EEOC or the PHRC—should commence the initial investigation.
Generally speaking, you have 180 days from the date of the discriminatory act to file. The EEOC, however, extends the deadline to 300 days if there is a comparable anti-discrimination law existing in the state.
What follows after receiving the complaint is that the assigned investigative agency will send out questionnaires to both you and the employer. There may be follow-up phone calls or meetings. The agency has the authority to mediate an agreement between the two of you. If that does not achieve its goal, the agency can sue your employer.
If either agency decides not to go to court, then it might issue you what is called a “right-to-sue” letter. This allows you to file a lawsuit against your employer for employment discrimination. In Pennsylvania, you have two years after receiving the letter from the PHRC to initiate your legal action. If the EEOC sends out the right-to-sue notification, you have just 90 days.
If you have been subjected to employment discrimination, whether as an applicant or employee, in or around Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, do not hesitate to initiate a charge or seek help in doing so. The clock is ticking for reporting discriminatory acts.
Employment Discrimination in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
As soon as the discriminatory act takes place, reach out to us at H. Rosen Law, P.C. We will help you navigate the entire process, and if it comes time for a lawsuit, we will fight aggressively for your rights and a resolution to the discrimination that took place.