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.

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