While some states defer to federal civil rights law, Pennsylvania sexual discrimination law in the workplace is outlined by the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. This act makes sexual discrimination in the workplace illegal.
Under this Act, an “employer” is anyone who employs four or people and includes the State of Pennsylvania and school districts. It excludes religious, fraternal or charitable associations unless they are funded (even in part) by the government. This differs from the federal laws because Title VII applies only to those employers who have fifteen or more employees. “Employees,” according to the State of Pennsylvania, are those who are employed by employers as defined above except for those in domestic or agricultural service, those who live at the employer’s residence as part of the employment and those who are employed by their parent, spouse or child.
According to the law, employers cannot make decisions in terms of a person’s hiring, firing, promoting or determining job terms, privileges or compensations on the basis of sex.
Pennsylvania employees who want to file a complaint against their employers can do so within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory act by contacting the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.
After you file your complaint, an investigator will begin collecting information relevant to your case and then will use that information to decide whether or not there is reasonable cause to believe that your rights have been violated.
If the investigator finds reasonable cause, you and your employer will enter a settlement phase. If you are unable to negotiate a settlement, the Commission will take your case to a public hearing.
If, instead of going through the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, you want to go through the state or federal courts, you will first need to file a request with the EEOC or the Commission for a “Right to Sue” letter.
No matter which course of action you choose, it’s important that you know your rights and responsibilities. Your employer should have a Pennsylvania Complete Labor Law Poster available in the workplace.