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Pennsylvania bills prohibit discrimination against LGBT employees

Two bills being introduced in both houses of the state legislature this week would finally ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Currently only three counties in the state provide protections for LGBT people, and in the other 63 counties it is perfectly lawful to deny someone a job, housing, or credit based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The proposals aim to protect Pennsylvania employees from wrongful termination, discriminatory hiring practices, workplace harassment, or denial of promotional opportunities.

A lawmaker representing Allegheny County in the state house of representatives said that she is co-sponsoring the bill to take a stand against discrimination and to act on the views of 70 percent of Pennsylvania residents who agree that LGBT people should be protected by the law.

Many people do not realize that there are still no federal protections for employees who are fired or denied a job because they are gay or transgender. This means that it is perfectly acceptable in most places in the country to fire someone just because they are gay. Employees who are fired on this basis can still try to pursue a legal action under a different discrimination theory, but it is often an uphill battle to seek justice and to change company policies regarding discrimination against LGBT employees.

The two proposed laws have significant support in the state legislature with a combined 102 sponsors in both houses including lawmakers from both the democratic and republican parties.

There are laws on the books in 20 other states that outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Source: South Pittsburgh Reporter, "Molchany co-sponsors bipartisan non-discrimination bill," May 14, 2013.

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