Philadelphia Human Relations Commission appeals SEPTA decision to high court

The Philadelphia Human Relations Commission filed an appeal with the state Supreme Court last week seeking to overturn an appellate ruling that exempts SEPTA from the city’s nondiscrimination law.

An April ruling by Commonwealth Court said the city’s fair practices ordinance ― which prohibits discrimination in employment and public accommodations ― doesn’t cover the transit agency because it exists as an arm of state government.

Riders and employees are still free to press claims against SEPTA through the state Human Relations Commission, as well as state and federal courts and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The city’s fair practice ordinance provides more protection than state and federal laws, however, in areas including sexual orientation and gender identity.

The lawsuit stems from seven cases brought before the commission, including one about SEPTA’s controversial use of gender stickers on its passes.

Transgender rights advocates argue the stickers are discriminatory, and SEPTA has promised not to use gender stickers with its planned smart card system.

Other cases stemmed from allegations of employment discrimination.

The notice of appeal was filed by the commission May 12. The court has yet to indicate whether it will take the case.

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