[HISTORY: Adopted by the Council of the Borough of Lansdale 8-15-2018 by Ord. No. 2018-1917. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Editor's Note: This ordinance was originally adopted as Ch. 43 but was renumbered to maintain the organization of the Code.
This chapter shall be known as the "Lansdale Borough Human Relations Ordinance."
The Borough of Lansdale finds that it is of high public importance to adopt appropriate legislation to insure that all persons, regardless of actual or perceived race, color, age, religious creed, ancestry, sex, national origin, handicap, use of guide or support animals because of blindness, deafness or physical handicap of the user or the user is a handler or trainer of support or guide animals, or sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression enjoy the full benefits of citizenship and are afforded equal opportunities for employment, housing and public accommodation.
The Borough Council of the Borough of Lansdale hereby declares it to be the public policy of the Borough to foster equality and equal opportunity for all citizens, regardless of actual or perceived race, color, age, religious creed, ancestry, sex, national origin, handicap or use of guide or support animals because of blindness, deafness or physical handicap of the user or because the user is a handler or trainer of support or guide animals, or because of an individual's sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression in all matters effecting employment, housing and commercial property and public accommodation, and to safeguard the right of all persons to remain free of discrimination or discriminatory practices in any of the foregoing aspects of their lives.
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as supporting, endorsing or advocating any particular doctrine, point of view, or religious belief. On the contrary, it is the express purpose and intent of this chapter that all persons be treated fairly and equally, and that all persons in the Borough of Lansdale shall be guaranteed fair and equal treatment under law.
The following words and phrases, when appearing in this chapter, shall have the meanings given to them under this section:
- The Borough of Lansdale, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.
- BOROUGH COUNCIL
- The elected Borough Council of the Borough of Lansdale, Montgomery County.
- COMMERCIAL PROPERTY OR HOUSING
- The opportunity for an individual to obtain any commercial property or housing accommodation for which the individual is qualified.
- Any discriminatory act(s) taken by any person, employer, entity, employment agency, or labor organization, with respect to or involving a transaction related to employment, public accommodations, publicly offered commercial property, or housing accommodations on the basis of a person's actual or perceived race, color, age, religious creed, ancestry, sex, national origin, handicap or use of guide or support animals because of blindness, deafness or physical handicap of the user or because the user is a handler or trainer of support or guide animals, or because of an individual's sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
- DISCRIMINATORY ACTS
- All acts or actions defined in the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act as unlawful discriminatory practices as related to employment, public accommodations, publicly offered commercial property, or housing accommodations on the basis of a person's actual or perceived race, color, age, religious creed, ancestry, sex, national origin, handicap or use of guide or support animals because of blindness, deafness or physical handicap of the user or because the user is a handler or trainer of support or guide animals; or, though not set forth in the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, because of an individual's sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
- Does not include any individuals who, as a part of their employment, reside in the personal residence of the employer.
- Includes the Borough, its departments, boards, and commissions, and any other governmental agency or school district thereof, and any person employing four or more persons within the Borough, but except as hereinafter provided, does not include religious fraternal, charitable or sectarian corporations or associations, except such corporations or associations supported, in whole or in part, by governmental appropriations.
- The opportunity for an individual to obtain employment for which the individual is qualified.
- GENDER IDENTITY OR EXPRESSION
- Self-perception, or perception by others, as male or female, including an individual's appearance, behavior, or physical characteristics, that may be in accord with, or opposed to, one's physical anatomy, chromosomal sex, or assigned sex at birth, and shall include, but is not limited to, persons who are undergoing or who have completed sex reassignment, are transgender or gender variant.
- This chapter, which shall be referred to as the "Lansdale Borough Human Relations Ordinance."
- Any natural person, fraternal, civic or other membership organization, corporation, general or limited partnership, proprietorship, limited-liability company, or similar business organization, including the Borough, its departments, boards and commissions, and any other for-profit and nonprofit organization.
- PUBLIC ACCOMMODATION
- The opportunity for an individual to access food, beverages or lodging, resort or amusement which is open to, accepts or solicits the patronage of the general public, but shall not include any accommodations which are in their nature distinctly private.
- SEXUAL ORIENTATION
- Actual or perceived homosexuality, heterosexuality and/or bisexuality.
Any terms of this chapter not expressly defined herein shall be construed in a manner consistent with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.
Discrimination in employment, housing and commercial property, or any public accommodation is prohibited under this chapter.
Retaliation against any individual because such person has opposed any practice forbidden by this chapter, or because such person has made a charge, testified, or assisted in any manner in any investigation or proceeding under this chapter is prohibited under this chapter.
Aiding, abetting, inciting, compelling, or coercing the doing of any act declared by this chapter to be an unlawful practice, or obstructing or preventing any person from complying with the provisions of this chapter is prohibited under this chapter.
Nothing in this chapter shall bar any religious or denominational institution or organization or any charitable or educational organization which is operated, supervised or controlled by or in connection with any religious organization or any bona fide private or fraternal organization from giving preference to persons of the same religion or denomination or to members of such private or fraternal organization from making such selection as is calculated by such organization to promote the religious principles or the aims, purposes or fraternal principles for which it is established or maintained. Nor shall it apply to rental of rooms in a landlord-occupied rooming house with a common entrance, nor with respect to discrimination based on sex, the advertising, the rental or leasing of housing accommodations in a single-sex dormitory or rooms in one's personal residence in which common living areas are shared.
Pursuant to the authority set forth under § 962.1 of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 P.S. § 962.1, there is hereby established a Human Relations Commission for the Borough of Lansdale, which shall be known as the "Lansdale Borough Human Relations Commission" (the "Commission").
The Commission shall consist of five members, who shall be appointed to terms of three years by Borough Council. The terms of the members of the Commission shall be staggered, such that the terms of no more than two members of the Commission shall expire each year. All members of the Commission shall be residents or business owners of the Borough of Lansdale and shall serve without compensation. The initial terms of the members of the Commission shall be: two members: three years; two members: two years; one member: one year.
The Chairperson of the Commission will designate one member as needed to receive complaints and conduct an intake meeting with the complainant. The member charged with this duty shall not participate in any mediations involving parties to the complaint for which they handled the intake.
The Commission shall, annually, designate one member to serve as Chairperson of the Commission. The Chairperson shall be responsible for coordinating the activities, meetings, and operations of the Commission, as set forth under this chapter. The Chairperson shall also report, from time to time, to the President of Borough Council regarding the activities of the Commission.
Members of the Commission shall, as soon after their appointment as practical, attend such training and education seminars or sessions as deemed necessary to acquaint themselves with the functioning of the Commission under this chapter, as well as the terms, conditions and provisions of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, and the operation of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. Such training and education shall be as directed by the Chairperson and shall be performed in conjunction with the state Human Relations Commission.
The Commission shall have all of those powers necessary to execute the duties set forth under this chapter, provided that such powers shall not exceed those exercised by the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.
The Commission shall operate within the scope of funds which may be allocated, on an annual basis by Borough Council and shall not exceed the annual allocation in any year, except upon prior approval by Borough Council. In adopting this chapter, Borough Council hereby expresses its intention that the operation of the Commission under this chapter shall be supported by volunteers, unpaid staff, and volunteer efforts and shall be as close to "zero-cost" to the Borough as reasonably feasible.
Complaints. Any person claiming to be aggrieved by a practice which is made unlawful under this chapter may make, sign, and file a verified complaint, as provided under Subsection B(1), alleging violations of this chapter. Such complaint shall, at a minimum, contain the following information:
The name, telephone number, mailing address and email (if applicable) of the aggrieved person(s);
The name, telephone number, mailing address and email (if applicable) of the person(s) alleged to have committed the prohibited practice;
A concise statement of the facts, including pertinent dates, time, locations, people, and acts involved constituting the alleged discriminatory practice;
Such other information as may be required by the Commission.
Complaints may be filed in person at the office of the Borough Manager, or by mailing such complaints to the Borough offices, to the attention of the Borough Manager or the member of the Commission designated to handle intake. All such complaints must be received by the Borough within 180 days of the occurrence of the last act giving rise to the complaint or such complaint shall be dismissed as untimely.
The Borough Manager shall transmit all complaints received to the Chairperson of the Commission not later than 10 days of receipt of the complaint. The Borough Manager shall conspicuously mark the face of the complaint with the date the document was first received in the Borough offices.
The Commission may promulgate forms for use by persons wishing to file a complaint, however, complaints which are prepared without the use of an approved form shall be deemed acceptable under this chapter so long as the facts set forth under Subsection A of this section can be clearly determined from the document submitted as a complaint.
The Commission may provide for a process by which persons seeking to file a complaint may consult with a volunteer or other staff person affiliated with the Commission who is trained to assist the prospective complainant in discerning the facts relevant to the prospective complaint. Such process shall also include referral of additional information to the prospective complainant concerning the content of this chapter, the content of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, and the availability of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission as an additional venue within which the prospective complainant may seek redress when possible.
Notifications and answer. Within 30 days of receipt of a complaint, the Commission shall:
Send a copy of the complaint to the person(s) charged with a discriminatory act or practice under this chapter (the "respondent"), together with a copy of this chapter.
Send a notice to the complainant, informing them that the complaint has been accepted and processed by the Commission. If the complaint alleges discrimination on a basis proscribed under federal or state law, the notice shall also inform the complainant of their right to file a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as well as the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, where applicable.
The Commission shall also include a notice to both the complainant and the respondent(s) of their option to elect to proceed to voluntary mediation in order to resolve the matters giving rise to the complaint.
The respondent(s) shall file a written verified answer to the complaint within 30 days of service of the complaint. An answer shall be filed in the same manner as a complaint.
Procedure following notification and answer. Within 30 days of receipt of an answer to a complaint, or, where no answer is filed, within 60 days of service of the complaint upon the respondent(s), the Commission shall proceed in accordance with the following options:
In the event that both parties have consented to mediation then the Commission shall refer the matter to a recognized alternative dispute resolution service, which same service may be provided through Montgomery County, the Montgomery Bar Association, or any other professional mediation service provider, or may refer the matter to a licensed member of the Pennsylvania bar, who may be willing to perform service to the Commission as a volunteer mediator. Any costs or expenses which may be associated with the mediation shall be the responsibility of the parties. The parties shall jointly select the mediator; however, the Commission shall retain the authority to act as the mediator in the event the parties have agreed to mediation but cannot jointly agree on a mediator. Mediation sessions conducted by the Commission may proceed with a minimum of two eligible Commission members. Mediation sessions shall remain private and not otherwise subject to public attendance.
When mediation has resulted in an amicable resolution of the complaint and the complaint is resolved, the Commission shall notify the parties that the complaint has been dismissed and shall record the result of the mediation in the notice of dismissal.
In the event the complaint has not been resolved through mediation the parties are entitled to proceed to the Court of Common Pleas in Montgomery County and/or the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission if appropriate.
Nothing contained in this chapter shall be deemed to limit the right of an aggrieved person to recover under any other applicable law or legal theory.
This chapter shall not apply to matters which are the subject of pending or prior filings made by an aggrieved person before any state or federal court or agency of competent jurisdiction.
Any person who shall violate any provision of § 225-4 of this chapter may be subject by the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas or any court of competent jurisdiction to the penalties enumerated in Section 9(f)(1 and 2), Sections 9.2, 9.3, and Sections 10 and 11 of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. The penalties contained in this chapter shall mirror any future changes to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act as adopted by the General Assembly and approved by the Governor.
The terms, conditions and provisions of this chapter are hereby declared to be severable, and, should any portion, part, or provision of this chapter be found by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, unenforceable or unconstitutional, Borough Council hereby declares its intent that the chapter shall have been enacted without regard to the invalid, unenforceable, or unconstitutional portion, part, or provision of this chapter.
Any and all other ordinances or parts of ordinances in conflict with the terms, conditions and provisions of this chapter are hereby repealed to the extent of such irreconcilable conflict.
This chapter shall be effective 90 days after its legal enactment.