Philadelphia, Pa. – August 11, 2005 – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – Pepper Hamilton LLP has won a complete victory for its client the City of Allentown in an appeal before the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court. Pepper lawyer Thomas B. Schmidt, III argued the case defending Allentown’s anti-discrimination ordinance on April 7, and Judge Renée Cohn Jubelirer filed an opinion on behalf of a unanimous panel in the city’s favor on August 11, 2005.
“We’re pleased that the court upheld the right of fair-minded cities, like the City of Allentown, to adopt protections from discrimination based upon sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Daniel J. Anders, one of the other Pepper lawyers handling the case. “We also are grateful for the support of the many amici curiae parties, including Allentown businesses such as Air Products and PP&L, and several churches and community groups.”
In 2002, Allentown adopted an ordinance prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity. A group of small business and rental property owners sued to have the ordinance declared invalid, both as preempted by the Commonwealth’s Human Relations Act and as beyond Allentown’s home rule authority. The trial court held that the ordinance was beyond Allentown’s home rule authority, but was not preempted. Pepper lawyers appealed to the Commonwealth Court, which reversed the trial court, finding that the ordinance was a valid exercise of Allentown’s authority and not preempted by the Human Relations Act.
In addition to Mr. Schmidt and Mr. Anders, the Pepper team representing the City of Allentown included Christopher J. Huber, Michelle M. Marx and paralegal Katherine E. Henson in the Philadelphia office, and Nathan D. Stump in Washington.
The August 11 opinion in Gerry Hartman, John Lapinski, Robert Roycroft and Debbie Roycroft v. City of Allentown and City of Harrisburg, No. 1708 C.D. 2004, is attached.
Pepper Hamilton LLP (www.pepperlaw.com) is a multi-practice law firm with 400 lawyers in six states and the District of Columbia. The firm provides corporate, litigation and regulatory legal services to leading businesses, governmental entities, nonprofit organizations and individuals throughout the nation and the world. The firm was founded in 1890.