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The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act

December 10, 2020 Workplace Discrimination

An Extra Layer of Protection Against Workplace Discrimination

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act is a state law that prohibits discrimination against employees in the workplace.

There are a number of federal-level laws that prohibit workplace discrimination—including Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

Like other states, Pennsylvania has also passed its own state-level law to expand the strength of federal statutes and further protect its workers.

Title VII and Other Federal Laws

Title VII, or the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibits workplace discrimination because of race, color, sex, religion, or national origin. Very recently, in June 2020, the definition of “sex” under Title VII was determined to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

This was a landmark law when it was passed on July 2, 1964. The last time Congress had tried to pass a law on civil rights, it was the Civil Rights Act of 1875. This was a law meant to protect African American civil rights during the Reconstruction period.

At that time, the Supreme Court invalidated the law by ruling that Congress did not have the authority to stop the private sector from discriminating.

Title VII sought to rectify that injustice, enshrining protection for people of color, women, and other protected classes of people into law.

Three years later, in 1967, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act was passed to protect people 40 years old and up from workplace discrimination based on their age. 

And a few decades later, in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed to expand those protections to people with disabilities.

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act 

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act was originally passed in 1955—so it predates Title VII.

Its protected classes are similar to the federal laws: it prevents discrimination due to race, color, sex, religion, or national origin. It also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who file a discrimination complaint, as the federal laws do.

But it goes farther than Title VII, covering areas that had to be protected in separate laws at the federal level. It extends protections to include familial status, ancestry, age, and handicap—including the use of a guide or support animal due to a health condition.

Which Laws Apply To Your Case? 

Governments at both the federal and state level have an interest in prohibiting workplace discrimination. If you are being discriminated against at work, your employer may be breaking several federal laws as well as the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.

If you are experiencing workplace discrimination, you should talk to a qualified employment lawyer. They can assess your case, determine whether you have a claim, and advise you regarding your next steps—including filing a lawsuit.

We have protected the workplace rights of hundreds of employees according to both state and federal law, and we can do the same for you.  Call us at 267-273-1054 or email us at for a free, confidential consultation today. 

The information provided here does not constitute legal advice. It is intended for general purposes only. If you have questions about a specific legal issue, you should speak to an attorney.