Pittsburgh law adds protection for gender identity and expression

On Behalf of | Aug 30, 2019 | Employment law

At Samuel J. Cordes & Associates, we represent individuals who experience discrimination in the workplace, which is a violation of both Pennsylvania and federal employment laws. An employer may not discriminate against you because of your age, race, sex, national origin, religion, disability or pregnancy. While these protections are extremely important, the Pittsburgh City Council expanded upon existing employment laws and passed its own anti-discrimination ordinances that local companies must abide by.

According to the Pittsburgh City Paper, the terms “gender identity” and “gender expression” were added to the city’s ordinances prohibiting discrimination. Allegheny County residents working at a company located in Pittsburgh now have additional rights to file a civil action against an employer over alleged gender harassment.

Pittsburgh’s ordinance expands its definition of gender identity, which is “a person’s actual or perceived identity as it relates to the gender spectra.” An employer must honor an employee’s right to self-identify as a specific gender, or no gender at all, even if that sex is not the one listed on their birth certificate.

Gender expression relates to how an employee prefers to express themselves externally such as through their haircut or their clothes. Under the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance, expression is defined as “a person’s actual or perceived expression of gender identity through appearance, dress, behavior, mannerisms, or other traits.” This means that an employee has the right to dress in a feminine or masculine manner without harassment at the workplace.

It may be a violation for an employer to require females to act in a certain manner and males to act in an entirely different manner. Employment policies that do not apply inclusively to every employee may be grounds for discrimination.

Our page on Employment Law FAQ provides more information about employment discrimination and workplace harassment.