In August 2016, employment discrimination in Philadelphia made headlines when Nafisah Williams, a former employee of Advanced Urgent Care in Wynnefield, brought suit against Dr. Mehdi Nikparvar. Williams alleged Nikparvar not only established illegal and unethical race-based preferences regarding which patients would be seen and treated first, but also terminated Williams’ employment when she objected to the race-based triage.
The Advanced Urgent Care case attracted media attention because it involves allegations of especially blatant prejudice and racism. Not all discrimination in the workplace cases attract as much notice. But Philadelphia’s laws have been written and passed to protect all residents against workplace injustices. Whether their cases grab the spotlight or not, they are important.
What is employment discrimination?
“Employment discrimination” refers to an employer’s denial of fair and equal treatment to its current, former or potential employees.
Employment discrimination takes place when, for reasons unrelated to job requirements or job performance, employers
- deny employees a new job or promotion
- extend inequitable terms of employment
- establish inequitable working conditions
- deny reasonable accommodation to employees who have disabilities
- harass or retaliate against employees
Unfortunately, this list of examples of bias in the workplace is not exhaustive. It should, however, give you some sense of the specific ways in which employers can discriminate against their employees.
What classes of employees are protected?
Philadelphia’s Commission on Human Rights identifying the following factors as those for which laws protect individuals from employment discrimination in Philadelphia:
- age (if 40 or older)
- color (light-skinned or dark-skinned)
- criminal background (Philadelphia’s Fair Chance Hiring Law makes it illegal for potential employers to ask job applicants about their criminal record during the hiring process)
- disability (physical or mental impairment)
- domestic or sexual violence victim status
- familial status (responsibilities of care for family members, regardless of those family members’ age)
- gender identity (self-identification as male, female or transgender)
- marital status
- national origin
- pregnancy (including before and after childbirth—for example, employers cannot deny an employee who was pregnant her job after she returns to work)
- retaliation (any threat of “materially adverse action” that might reasonably discourage someone from filing an employment discrimination complaint)
- sexual orientation
All of these factors identify “protected classes.” They need not be the sole factor motivating an employer’s discriminatory behavior; they need only be a significant reason for the discriminatory behavior to be in violation of laws against employment discrimination in Philadelphia.
When You Face Employment Discrimination in Philadelphia
If you believe or suspect you have been unfairly discriminated against in your workplace, your best course of action is to contact an experienced employment discrimination attorney as soon as you possibly can.
At the Law Offices of Thomas More Holland, we offer expert knowledge and deep experience when representing people who have been harassed, discriminated against or wrongfully dismissed from their jobs.
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