PCHR responds to call for updated statewide nondiscrimination law

PHILADELPHIA – PCHR Executive Director Rue Landau responds to the rising debate regarding the need for an updated nondiscrimination law in Pennsylvania. Democratic and Republican lawmakers recently introduced Senate Bill 974 and House Bill 1510 — together, known as the Pennsylvania Fairness Act — in the General Assembly.

“Despite marriage equality being the law of the land – first through the 2014 Whitewood decision, then affirmed nationally by the U.S. Supreme Court in June – LGBT residents and visitors can still suffer discrimination across the commonwealth. People can be denied services, evicted or fired from their jobs because of their sexual orientation or gender identity without penalties across much of Pennsylvania.

“Philadelphia is one of the few areas where comprehensive protections barring LGBT discrimination exists – a practice that should be in place in every municipality, Landau says.

“For decades, Philadelphia has recognized that strong nondiscrimination laws protecting everyone – including LGBT residents and visitors – make economic sense. They allow businesses to attract more dollars, broaden their workforce and build our tax base as a result. We understand that the best and brightest can come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Philadelphia has continued to lead in this area. Now Pennsylvania must follow.

“Passing comprehensive nondiscrimination legislation would give us hope that all Pennsylvanians will be protected, be it in the streets or in the workplace. Whatever law eventually passes in Harrisburg must preserve the rights of cities like Philadelphia to be at the cutting edge of addressing discrimination, and should emulate our efforts. Only then would we see our commonwealth finally live up to its credo – virtue, liberty and independence.”

Chatting and tweeting on Philly fair housing

wyl_twitter_081215PCHR and FHC had a robust online discussion with members of the WhoseYourLandlord.com community on Twitter on Wednesday.

Topics ranged from what you should look for in a lease to what kinds of discrimination traps lay out there. In a chat chockfull of valuable tips and insights, people of all stripes added their questions to get a fuller understanding of their rights as tenants and landlords in Philadelphia,

Missed the original Twitter chat? Never fear! Check out the transcript: #wylcommunity_pchr-fhc_transcript.

What you need to know about fair housing in Philly, in 140 characters

wyl_twitter_081215Understanding the ins and outs of leases and laws when it comes to securing a rental home can be tough.

That’s why today from 1 to 2 p.m., PCHR and the Philadelphia Fair Housing Commission will team up with the crew of Whose Your Landlord for a live Twitter chat on the ins and outs of renting in the city.

As a tenant, future tenant, landlord or future landlord, there are pitfalls to avoid — and questions that should — and can — be asked. Here’s your invite to do just that. But remember: everything needs to be a compact 140 characters or less.

Be sure to log on and jump into the conversation. Follow along at the  hashtag on Twitter.

PCHR disappointed in SEPTA ruling

The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, defendant in a lawsuit by SEPTA regarding jurisdiction over the transportation system, issued the following statement in response to today’s Commonwealth Court ruling:

“We are deeply disappointed with the majority opinion of the Commonwealth Court,” said Rue Landau, executive director of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations. “We are still reviewing the decision and assessing our next steps.

“We’re in a time when across the country we’re expanding protections for people in the LGBT community, and today the Commonwealth Court renders a decision that would make it legal to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender riders and employees of SEPTA. That’s shameful.

“We believe President Judge Pellegrini is correct in his 21-page dissenting opinion when he says, ‘The consequence of making SEPTA subject to Philadelphia’s Fair Practices Ordinance would mean that more invidious discrimination would be abated . . ..’ ”

“For any public agency to think they can be immune from anti-discrimination laws in their operation is an affront to the entire community,” said Thomas H. Earle, PCHR chair. “It’s always good to interpret and apply civil rights laws as broadly as possible. The commission will fully explore next steps, including re-filing with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.”

PCHR is the agency charged with ensuring fair dealings in employment, housing, public accommodations and real estate and diffusing inter-group conflict within the city, as outlined in the city’s Fair Practices Ordinance, Philadelphia’s guiding civil rights legislation.