Philadelphia Expands Its Antidiscrimination Law

March 31, 2011
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April 2011: Last month, the City of Philadelphia adopted a measure to update its Fair Practices Ordinance, which prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, use of public accommodations, and the delivery of city services. The comprehensive update of the law accomplishes three primary goals: extending protections to new classes of Philadelphians, creating greater capacity for enforcement by the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR), and updating the language of the ordinance to make it more accessible.
Among other things, the amendments:
• Extend protections to cover discrimination based upon genetic information, domestic or sexual violence victim status, or familial status;
• Provide greater protections for members of the LGBT community who lack protection under federal and state law;
• Extend existing housing protections to cover all property, including commercial uses;
• Streamline the PCHR’s procedures for accepting, investigating, and adjudicating complaints;
• Increase penalties for discrimination from $300 to the maximum allowance of $2,000; and
• Expand remedies available to victims of discrimination.
“I am honored to sign this legislation today, which extends protections and recognizes that all Philadelphian’s deserve to live and work without the threat of discrimination. I would like to thank Councilman Greenlee for his dedication to passing this legislation,” Mayor Michael A. Nutter said in a statement. “Today’s bill signing is historic as we overhaul how Philadelphia fights discrimination for the first time since 1963.”
Councilman Bill Greenlee added, “I’m proud to sponsor the modernization of the Fair Practices Law. This legislation allows a Philadelphian that experiences discrimination to have it addressed by a city agency. It is particularly noteworthy that the LGBT community’s civil rights are further protected under this law.”
“ This historic legislation will serve as a model for other human rights agencies around the country,” said PCHR Executive Director Rue Landau. “Extending protections to cover discrimination based upon domestic or sexual violence victim status, genetic information, and familial status are groundbreaking areas that are now covered under the law.”
Landau added, “Increasing penalties from $300 to the maximum of $2,000 sends a clear message that discrimination is costly and it will not be tolerated in the City of Philadelphia.”

Source: City of Philadelphia