Attorneys Malcolm Gross and Jack Gross Provide Municipal Litigation Services in Allentown’s Anti-Discrimination Ordinance
On August 11, 2005, a 3-judge panel of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania held that the City of Allentown’s Anti-Discrimination Ordinance complied with the Home Rule Charter and Optional Plans Law. The Court also re-affirmed the principle that municipalities in Pennsylvania may protect more classes of individuals than are protected by Pennsylvania’s Human Relations Act.
In April of 2002, the City of Allentown amended its Human Relations Ordinance to include protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, employment and public accommodations in the City. Allentown is one of more than 150 municipalities across the country to enact such an ordinance.
Malcolm Gross and Jack Gross are acting pro bono as local counsel for the City, working with outside counsel and the City Solicitor’s Office to defend the Ordinance against a legal challenge filed by four individuals. The Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas had ruled in 2004 that the amendment to the City’s Ordinance had gone beyond the powers granted to home rule municipalities by state statute.
The Commonwealth Court found that anti-discrimination protections such as those in Allentown’s Ordinance were authorized by a municipality’s inherent power to protect the health, safety and welfare of its residents, and that the Ordinance did not exceed the powers granted to home rule municipalities.