Employment Discrimination in Pennsylvania

Employment discrimination against protected classes is illegal in Pennsylvania.

Federal and state law prohibit Pennsylvania employers from discriminating against employees based on certain characteristics, such as race or religion. (To learn more, see our page on employment discrimination and harassment.)

What Are the Protected Classes in Pennsylvania?

In all 50 states, federal law makes it illegal to discriminate based on:

  • race
  • color
  • national origin
  • religion
  • sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions)
  • disability
  • age (40 and older)
  • citizenship status, and
  • genetic information.

In addition, Pennsylvania state law also prohibits discrimination based on:

  • race
  • color
  • national origin
  • religion
  • sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions)
  • disability: physical or mental
  • age (40 to 70)
  • GED rather than high school diploma
  • use of service animal, and
  • relationship or association with disabled person.

Several cities in the U.S. have their own laws protecting additional characteristics or extending protection to more employees. For example, in Philadelphia, it is illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Contact your local government to learn more.

Which Pennsylvania Employers Are Subject to the Antidiscrimination Laws?

Federal antidiscrimination laws apply to Pennsylvania employers with 15 or more employees, with the following exceptions:

  • age discrimination (employers with 20 or more employees)
  • citizenship status discrimination (employers with four or more employees), and
  • equal pay for men and women (all employers).

Pennsylvania's antidiscrimination law applies to companies with four or more employees.

What Government Agency Regulates Workplace Discrimination in Pennsylvania?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency that regulates workplace discrimination. You can contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by calling 800-669-4000 or check out its website at www.eeoc.gov. The website will help you locate an EEOC field office in Pennsylvania.

The Human Relations Commission enforces state antidiscrimination law in Pennsylvania. You can contact the Human Relations Commission at 717-787-4410 or 717-787-9784 or go to its website.

For more information on employment discrimination, see The Manager's Legal Handbook, by attorneys Lisa Guerin and Amy DelPo (Nolo).

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