Philadelphia has amended its fair-employment practices ordinance to add three new classes. Now, employers in the city may not discriminate against employees on the basis of:
- Any genetic information they may gather
- An employee’s status as a victim of domestic or sexual violence
- An employee’s familial status.
The ordinance already protects employees from discrimination based on race, ethnicity, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status and disability. (Previously, the ordinance referred to “handicap” rather than “disability.”)
Victims of sexual or domestic abuse already had the right to take leave to deal with the effects of abuse, sexual assault or stalking. The new ordinance prohibits any person (not just an employer) from harassing, threatening, harming, damaging or otherwise penalizing, retaliating or discriminating against an employee because of his or her status as a victim of abuse.
The Philadelphia ordinance defines familial-status discrimination as bias based on the employee’s role as a care giver for family members. “Family” is broadly defined to include “life partners”—unmarried persons of the same gender who are in a long-term, committed relationship. The relationship must meet city guidelines.
The new ordinance grants greater power to the city’s Commission on Human Rights. Under the new rules, the commission may levy compensatory and punitive damages up to $2,000. The old ordinance capped damages at $300.