Anti-Discrimination laws have become something of a hot topic within employment law over the last few years. Many workers have become more aware of their rights, as well as challenging compliance with laws when they spot a problem. It’s become the norm for more employees to speak up. Theoretically, that should be good for employers who don’t want to discriminate and want content and loyal employees. However, what happens when local governments have the right to shut down businesses that discriminate? We may find out soon. Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney has signed Bill No. 170334, amending Philly’s Fair Practices Ordinance. The city’s, new rules provide the city the right to shut down any local business based on violations of the ordinance.
The original ordinance, enforced by Philly’s main civil rights and anti-discrimination agency, Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR), challenged any discriminatory behavior of businesses based on sex, race, age, gender, sexual orientation, ancestry, color, disability, ethnicity, national origin, race, religion, and more. Now, the amendment to the ordinance allows the PCHR to shut down local businesses that have engaged in repeated anti-discriminatory behavior and have done little to remedy the situation. The ordinance specifies violations by severity, though that severity has yet to be determined, as is the amount of time businesses may be shutdown and the number of repeated violations that would solicit such ceasing of operations. It will now be up to the PCHR to create regulations for enforcement of the amended ordinance. The amended ordinance should put local Philadelphia businesses on notice that anti-discriminatory behavior in the workplace will not be tolerated. You can bet that other local governments and businesses are watching.