Pennsylvania Employment Discrimination – Gender Stereotyping

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In Pennsylvania, there are laws at both the Federal and State level that prohibit employers from discriminating based upon various factors. For instance, one cannot discriminate with respect to the hiring, termination, salary or working conditions of individuals based upon age, gender, race, disability, religion, nationality or other recognized protected factors.

While the prohibitions on discrimination based upon the above-mentioned factors are quite clear, employment discrimination based upon sexual preference in Pennsylvania remains a murky issue. The two primary anti-discrimination laws in Pennsylvania involve the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (“PHRA”) and at the federal level, the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Neither of these laws currently has an explicit prohibition on discrimination based upon sexuality. However, the EEOC has undertaken enforcement action against employers for discriminating based upon “gender stereotypes.” In lieu of any congressional action to outright prohibit this form of discrimination, this doctrine seems to be emerging as an interpretation as the Civil Rights Act.

Gender stereotyping focuses on prohibition of discriminating against an individual because that person does not act within the gender stereotypical “norms” of his or her gender. For instance, a male who acts somewhat more “feminine” or a female who acts in manners that are more stereotypically masculine would be protected from being discriminated against for such conduct. Employers need to be aware that they can be subject to liability for such discrimination, and likewise, employees who believe that they are the victim of such discrimination may have a viable claim that could be pursued either through the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, and/or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Attorney J.T. Herber, III handles employment discrimination claims, and the defense of such claims by employers in Schuylkill County, as well as in the surrounding region of central and eastern Pennsylvania. The other areas of his practice include criminal defense, personal injury, landlord-tenant, commercial litigation, and collections / defense of collection suits. He works out of the firm’s Pottsville, Tamaqua, Orwigsburg and Pine Grove law offices. Attorney Herber is a Martindale-Hubbell AV® Preeminent rated attorney.


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