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Legal protection still elusive for GLBT employees in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania lawmakers have been considering a bill to protect employees from sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination for a decade. Yet, in all of that time they have not passed protections for employees here.

One state lawmaker recently told reporters this situation represents "the last vestige of legal discrimination in this country."

Pennsylvania voters overwhelmingly support banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. In fact, 70 percent of voters have said that they favor extending civil rights protections to those groups.

Many other states in the region have civil rights protections for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered community written into their laws already. The city of Pittsburgh adopted legislation in 1997 that protects GLBT residents. Harrisburg has also enacted municipal ordinances, but overall, equal rights activists say that Pennsylvania as a state is far behind others in the nation on this issue.

Still, Pennsylvania employees who are discriminated against or harassed at work because of their sexual orientation should not feel like they must endure the hardship and take no recourse. There may be other legal avenues available in a specific case that can help employees get the justice that they deserve. If the discrimination took place in one of the cities that has enacted protections for GLBT residents, then one may be able to seek a remedy under those laws. It's also important to remember that discrimination based on sex and gender are illegal, and that sexual harassment at the workplace is illegal, and sometimes those laws can be invoked to protect GLBT employees.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Workzone: Pennsylvania lacks law guarding sexual orientation," Ann Belser, Oct. 14, 2012.

Our Pittsburgh employment law firm handles many types of discrimination cases, including those involving sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace. More information is on our website.

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