The Department of Justice just filed an amicus brief in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals arguing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not prohibit discrimination against gay, lesbian and bisexual employees. Local laws in our region vary a lot in terms of protecting LGBT people from discrimination.
Civil Rights attorney Nellie Fitzpatrick says the move is just the latest shockwave to go through the LGBTQ community since President Trump took office.
“The chilling and horrible effect this has is that it licenses more discrimination and hate and puts people in danger,” she said. “Ultimately this comes down to people going from seeking a job to just trying to also just trying seek out safety and it’s a terrifying moment.”
Fitzpatrick says Philadelphia and other Pennsylvania counties have specific protections against LGBTQ discrimination, but the federal protections are thin.
“It is illegal to sex stereotype somebody and discriminate against them because of that. You can’t discriminate against someone a woman because of her sex because she’s not dressing femininely enough when she comes to work,” she said.
Rue Landau, an attorney who heads up Philadelphia’s Commission on Human Relations says with the Trump Administration arguing that the Civil Rights Law does not protect members of the LGBTQ community it’s more important than ever for regulation to be handled on the state and local level.
“This is chipping away at almost 30 years of progress across the country in creating case law that sex discrimination is the same as sexual orientation discrimination.”
While Philadelphia and individual jurisdictions in Pennsylvania have laws prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people, the state does not but New Jersey and Delaware do.