Monday, January 9, 2023

Pennsylvania expands definition of "race" in anti-discrimination law

Pennsylvania’s Independent Regulatory Review Commission approved changes to the regulations defining "race" in Pennsylvania's workplace anti-discrimination law, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA). The changes will also impact housing and public accommodations provision, but this is an employment law blog, soooo. Also note that additional changes address sex and sexual orientation, and religious creeds, but more on that later this week...

You can read the actual proposal here. Most notably, the regulations prohibit discrimination on the basis of "ethnic characteristics," "traits associated with race," and "interracial marriage and association."

"Traits associated with race" include "hair texture and protective hairstyles, such as braids, locks, and twists."

"Ethnic characteristics" include "physical characteristics such as skin and hair color, body size, and facial features typical of persons of a particular cultural or social background: linguistic characteristics such as language or dialect; behavioral or cultural characteristics such as religion or customs: environmental characteristics such as living in the same area or region."

Just for good measure, they also threw in, "Hispanic ancestry, national origin, or ethnic characteristics, including, but not limited to, persons of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Central or South American, or other Spanish origin or culture."

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