[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of New Britain Borough 2-12-2019 by Ord. No. 394. Amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter shall be known as the "New Britain Borough Human Relations Ordinance."
The Borough of New Britain finds that it is of high public importance to adopt appropriate legislation to insure that all persons, regardless of upon actual or perceived ethnicity, race, color, ancestry, religion, national origin, gender, gender identity or expression, marital and familial status, age, sexual orientation, mental or physical disability, use, handling, or training of guide or support animals, use of mechanical aids, and/or source of income enjoy the full benefits of citizenship and are afforded equal opportunities for employment, housing and public accommodation.
The Borough Council of the Borough of New Britain 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 ethnicity, race, color, ancestry, religion, national origin, gender, gender identity or expression, marital and familial status, age, sexual orientation, mental or physical disability, use, handling, or training of guide or support animals, use of mechanical aids, and/or source of income 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 New Britain shall be guaranteed fair and equal treatment under law.
This chapter shall be deemed an exercise of the police power of the Borough of New Britain, as provided under the Pennsylvania Borough Code, for the protection of the public welfare, prosperity, health and peace of the community of New Britain Borough.
The following words and phrases, when appearing in this chapter, shall have the meanings given to them under this section. Any terms of this chapter not expressly defined herein shall be construed in a manner consistent with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.
- The Borough of New Britain, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
- BOROUGH COUNCIL
- The elected Borough Council of the Borough of New Britain, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
- COMMERCIAL PROPERTY OR HOUSING
- The opportunity for an individual to obtain any commercial property or housing accommodation for which he is qualified.
- The treatment or consideration, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person based on the group, class, or category to which that person belongs rather than on individual merit. For purposes of this chapter, "discrimination" shall specifically include any discriminatory act(s) taken by any person, agency, employer, employment agency, labor organization, or public accommodation on the basis of actual or perceived ethnicity, race, color, ancestry, religion, national origin, gender, gender identity or expression, marital and familial status, age, sexual orientation, mental or physical disability, use, handling, or training of guide or support animals, use of mechanical aids, and/or source of income, or any other group, class or category which is recognized under federal or state law, including the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, as entitled to protection under this chapter.
- DISCRIMINATORY ACTS
- All acts defined in the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act as unlawful discriminatory practices in education, housing, employment and public accommodations, extending the protections afforded under the Act to all persons protected by this chapter.
- Does not include any individuals who, as a part of their employment, resides in the personal residence of the employer.
- The term "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 he 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 "New Britain 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, or is listed in § 4(1) of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 P.S. § 954(1), but shall not include any accommodations which are in their nature distinctly private.
- SEXUAL ORIENTATION
- Actual or perceived homosexuality, heterosexuality and/or bisexuality.
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.
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 New Britain, which shall be known as the "New Britain Borough Human Relations Commission."
The New Britain Borough Human Relations 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 1/3 of the members of the Commission shall expire each year. All members of the Commission shall be residents or business owners of the Borough of New Britain and shall serve without compensation.
The Human Relations 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 the Borough Council regarding the activities of the Commission.
The Chairperson of the Commission will designate one member as needed to receive the complaint and conduct an intake meeting with the complainants. The member charged with this duty shall not participate in any mediations involving parties to the complaint for which they handled the intake nor shall this member vote on complaints brought in front 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 New Britain Borough Human Relations 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 New Britain Borough Human Relations 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 New Britain Human Relations Commission shall be charged with the duty to provide public education, promote diversity and inclusion within the Borough, to act as a liaison to community groups and civic organizations and to serve, generally, as a community resource regarding diversity, antidiscrimination, and equality of opportunity in all aspects of the common welfare of the Borough.
The New Britain Borough Human Relations 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 New Britain Borough Human Relations 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) of § 27-7 of this chapter, alleging violations of this chapter. Such complaint shall, at a minimum, contain the following information:
The name, telephone number, mailing address and e-mail (if applicable) of the aggrieved person(s);
The name, telephone number, mailing address and e-mail (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; and
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 Bucks County, the Bucks County 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 Bucks 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 § 27-4 of this chapter may be subject by the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas or any Court of competent jurisdiction to the penalties enumerated in § 9(f)(1) and (2), 9.2, 9.3, 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.
This chapter extends the protections of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act to include all classes identified and protected herein.
All penalties included in the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act shall be extended to include all protected classes enumerated in the New Britain Borough Human Relations Ordinance.