The ‘perceived as’ theory of discrimination in Pennsylvania — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

The ‘perceived as’ theory of discrimination in Pennsylvania

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

by Hope A. Comisky, Esq., and Fatima Bhuriwala, Pepper Hamilton, LLP, Philadelphia

An intriguing discrimination case in New Jersey raises complicated issues that Pennsylvania courts may one day have to address.

In Cowher v. Carson & Roberts (A-4014-10T1, N.J. Super., 2012) Myron Cowher sued because his supervisors frequently directed anti-Semitic slurs toward him. But Cowher is not Jewish, so the trial court dismissed his religious harassment claim, holding that New Jersey law doesn’t recognize a discrimination claim based on perceived membership in such a protected class.

The New Jersey Appellate Division disagreed. It held that the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination prohibits discrimination based on protected characteristics even if the harassment victim did not possess, but was perceived to possess, the protected characteristic.

Note: Two seminal federal anti-­discrimination statutes—Title VII and the ADA—prohibit work...(register to read more)

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