Philadelphia, March 24, 2011– Mayor Michael A. Nutter signed legislation introduced by Councilman Bill Greenlee to update and amend the city’s Fair Practices Ordinance, which prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, use of public accommodations, and the delivery of City services. The legislation was passed by City Council unanimously. The comprehensive update of the law, the first since 1963, accomplishes three primary goals: creating greater capacity for enforcement by the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR), extending protections to new classes of Philadelphians, and updating the language of the ordinance to make it more accessible. The PCHR was established in 1951.

“I am honored to sign this legislation today, which extends protections and recognizes that all Philadelphian’s deserve to live and work without the threat of discrimination. I would like to thank Councilman Greenlee for his dedication to passing this legislation,” said Mayor Nutter. “Today’s bill signing is historic as we overhaul how Philadelphia fights discrimination for the first time since 1963.”

Councilman Bill Greenlee added, “I’m proud to sponsor the modernization of the Fair Practices Law. This legislation allows a Philadelphian that experiences discrimination to have it addressed by a city agency. It is particularly noteworthy that the LGBT community’s civil rights are further protected under this law.”

The Fair Practices Ordinance was amended with changes included:

    • Streamlining the PCHR’s procedures for accepting, investigating and adjudicating complaints;
    • Increasing penalties for discrimination from $300 to the maximum allowance of $2,000;
    • Expanding remedies available to victims of discrimination;
    • Extending protections to cover discrimination based upon genetic information, domestic or sexual violence victim status, or familial status;
    • Providing greater protections for members of the LGBT community who lack protection under federal and state law;
    • Extending existing housing protections to cover all property, including commercial uses; and
    • Provides greater consistency with federal and state anti-discrimination laws.

“This historic legislation will serve as a model for other human rights agencies around the country,” said Rue Landau, Executive Director of the PCHR. “Extending protections to cover discrimination based upon domestic or sexual violence victim status, genetic information, and familial status are groundbreaking areas that are now covered under the law.”

Ms. Landau added, “Increasing penalties from $300 to the maximum of $2,000 sends a clear message that discrimination is costly and it will not be tolerated in the City of Philadelphia.”

The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR) is the City agency that enforces civil rights laws and deals with all matters of inter-group conflict within the city. It was established under the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter and is mandated by Charter to enforce the Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance, which prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations and the delivery of City services.

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