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What Protects Me from On-the-Job Discrimination in Pennsylvania?

Despite monumental efforts by both public and private organizations and agencies to eliminate discrimination in the workplace over the past several decades, it does still occur far more often than most people realize. The good news, however, is that many types of employment discrimination are now illegal in the United States, meaning an employer may face serious penalties if the employer engages in discriminatory practices, or allows discrimination to occur in the workplace. As an employee, you may wonder “What protects me from on-the-job discrimination in Pennsylvania?” The answer is found in both state and federal law.

The United States operates under a federalist form of government, meaning that we have a central government (the federal government) as well as numerous smaller governmental bodies (the state governments). As such, both federal and state law may protect a worker from workplace discrimination. It is important to note, however, that not all forms of discrimination are illegal in the workplace. To be legally actionable, the discrimination must be based on a protected class or characteristic.

In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, The Pennsylvania Human Rights Act, or PHRA, prohibits employment discrimination based on “race, color, religious creed, ancestry, age, sex, national origin or non-job related handicap or disability or the use of a guide or support animal because of the blindness, deafness or physical handicap of any individual or independent contractor.”

At the federal level, several laws protect workers from discrimination in the workplace. Some of the most commonly used laws, along with the type of discrimination covered, include:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) – Title VII prohibits discrimination in employment based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) – the ADEA prohibits age discrimination in the workplace; however, it only covers employees who are age 40 or older.
  • The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) – the EPA prohibits sex-based wage discrimination in the workplace.
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended (ADA) – the ADA prohibits employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities.
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) – the FMLA guarantees eligible employees who work for a covered employer up to 12 weeks of job protected leave for medical or family emergencies.
  • The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) – the GINA makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of genetic information.

If you believe you have been discriminated against in the workplace, you need to contact an experienced Pennsylvania employment law attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options. Call the Conshohocken employment law attorneys at Curley & Rothman, LLC today at 610-834-8819