Township Takes First Crack at LGBT Anti-Discrimination Law

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Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch's picture
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Lower Merion Township will release it's first draft of a township ordinance today intended prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Read more about what the township is proposing, the potential costs (and penalties) in First Draft of Anti-Discrimination Law Aims to Secure LGBT Rights on Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch (new online community newspaper).

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Ardmore's picture
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"Currently, you could be fired, not hired or kicked out of your home or residence, just because you are LGBT"

I really had no idea that this is true.  I still don't.

"the township will create a three- to five-person, volunteer-based "Human Relations Commission" to hear and act on discrimination complaints.  The commission would act as the enforcement mechanism of a strictly defined anti-discrimination ordinance preventing prejudiced treatment in the areas of employment, public accommodations (loans, offers of goods or services, etc.) and commercial or housing accommodations (excluding personal residences offered for rent) on the basis of sexual orientation or self-perceived gender identity and expression."

I don't discriminate and have little patience for those that do, but I do have fears of quasi-governmental commission like this.  While I see they took out religious institutions from the draft, I assume the first focus of the commission will be the easy ones - "boy" / "girl" scouts and the LM Soccer Club's arbitrary distinction between "boys" and "girls" soccer.  Plus, of course, the issue of public marriage ...

I look at the result of Canada's HRC's - the devolved relatively quickly from clear-cut discrimination complaints into political posturing debates.  I'd encourage you to eliminate the exclusion for religious institutions.  If we're going to have this fight, don't limit, let's go for the whole bannana and see where the First Amendment stops ...

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dmuth's picture
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I really had no idea that this is true. I still don't.

As the site's resident Gay Guy[tm], I can assure you that it's quite true, at least in the state of Pennsylvania. We're an "at-will" employment state, which means that either employee or employer can end a job for any reason (or none) and with no notice whatsoever. As long as federal discrimination law isn't violated (things like race, gender, religion, disabilities, etc.), it's legal.

That said, in this general area of the state, I think someone being fired over their sexual orientation would almost certainly make local news, resulting in a backlash against the employer.

Also, many companies now include sexual orientation under the sexual harassment section of their employee handbook, which exceeds protections granted under Federal laws, and is quite nice of said companies. I know Symantec did this back in 2005 when I worked for them. My current employer does it as well.

I don't discriminate and have little patience for those that do, but I do have fears of quasi-governmental commission like this.

I think your concern is healthy. It's all the more reason why, as someone suggested on another thread, legal experts need to be involved with this sort of thing from the very beginning, to make sure that neither the organization is impotent in cases of real discrimination, nor do witchhunts happen against employers who terminate employees with cause.

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