Wolf’s admin panel looks to beef up to bolster LGBTQ protections
Last month, the proposed regulations were sent to the Independent State Regulatory Review Commission for review. The IRRC is expected to approve or reject a final version of the regulations later this year.
More than 70 localities across the state have adopted their own LGBT protections. But these localities cover less than half of the state’s population.
Mr. Joel Bolstein, President of the PHRC, praised the proposed regulations.
“The PHRC wants the LGBTQ community to know that the Commission will protect all LGBTQ people from discrimination throughout the Commonwealth under the laws of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act and the Pennsylvania Fair Educational Opportunities Act,” Bolstein said in an e -mail. “We have been doing this since adopting our LGBTQ policy guidelines in 2018. We took this step to, essentially, codify our policy guidelines because of the 6-3 decision by the United States Supreme Court in the Bostock case – which found that it is a violation of Title VII of the United States Civil Rights Act when an adverse employment action is brought against a person because of their sexual orientation or her gender identity. In this case, the protected class was “sex”. We have this same protected class – sex – in the PHRA and the PFEOA, which are laws enforced by the PHRC. These laws, however, are not limited to discrimination in employment, but also cover discrimination in housing, education and public housing. These regulations will make it clear to plaintiffs and defendants in cases before the PHRC exactly how the Commission intends to interpret the protected class “sex” for purposes of applying the discrimination protections in the PHRA and the PFEOA. »
Bolstein declined to predict how the IRRC will vote.
“It is premature to ask whether the IRRC will approve or reject these proposed settlements,” Bolstein continued. “First, the PHRC will carefully consider and respond to public comments it receives. We have received a significant number of public comments on PHRC’s LGBTQ policy directions. And we expect the same with these settlement proposals. It is a significant problem. We want to hear from anyone who is interested. The PHRC is a bipartite public agency. When we go to the IRRC to seek its approval for the regulations, we will have completed the public consultation process, reviewed and responded to public comments, and PHRC will be fully prepared to explain why these regulations are necessary and how they reflect the the current state of the law, as expressed by the United States Supreme Court, as well as other federal and state courts that have ruled on the subject of sex discrimination.
Bolstein added, “On whether the PHRC will continue to investigate LGBTQ-related antibias complaints as part of its LGBTQ policy guidance, the answer is yes. These policy orientations were adopted by the PHRC in 2018 after advice and comments. However, the IRRC’s approval of the settlement would likely trigger a subsequent review and vote by the commissioners on whether the LGBTQ policy guidance is still necessary, since the settlement would have the force of law.
David J. Sumner, Executive Director of the IRRC, released this statement: “Pennsylvania law requires thorough and public scrutiny of the agency’s rules before they can take effect, including independent review by the IRRC. Our Commission will carefully review these regulations, as well as comments from members of the public and interested parties, to ensure that the proposed rules are in the public interest.
Naiymah Sanchez, trans rights organizer for the ACLU of Pennsylvania, also welcomed the proposed regulations.
“There is no place for discrimination in Pennsylvania today,” Sanchez said in an email. “We are making progress, as in the Bostock case, in which the Supreme Court recognized that discrimination based on sex includes discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. But state law needs to be stronger, to make it clear that discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer and transgender people is illegal. We are grateful to the Commission for taking this on and look forward to supporting efforts to get the regulations approved. »