FILE A COMPLAINT

Definitions




[ A| B| C| D| E| F| G| H| I| J| K| L| M| N| O| P| Q| R| S| T| U| V| W| X| Y| Z ]

Definitions shown below are terms as they are defined in the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.  Also included are definitions of terms used in the complaint filing and investigation process. 

A

Advertising - Expression of a preference or restriction as to race, religion, sex, etc. when soliciting applicants for employment, housing opportunities or services.

Age - Any person 40 years of age or older. (Age is protected only in employment and housing.)

Ancestry - Nationality or ethnic origin (i.e. East Indian, Hispanic or Korean)

Apprenticeship - A program or job which will serve as a learning experience for future employment.

Assignment - Designation of an employee to a particular duty, shift or work location.

B

Benefits - Non-wage compensation items, such as insurance, leave, retirement plans, free or reduced rate parking, gifts/bonuses or employee discounts.

Benefits/Retire/Pensions - Used to describe discrimination in the awarding of pension or retirement benefits.

Benefits/Insurance - Used to describe discrimination in the provision of insurance benefits.

C

Case Management System - CMS - The commission's internal, electronic case management, processing and tracking system.  Records the intake, investigation, legal processing and case communications involved in complaint investigation.

Commercial property - Building, structure, facility or land offered for sale or lease.

Complainant - The aggrieved person who files a complaint of discrimination with PHRC.

Complaint - Referred to as a case and may contain multiple counts (discriminatory events).

Constructive Discharge - Employee is forced to quit or resign because of the employer's discriminatory restrictions, constraints or intolerable working conditions.

Count - Consists of one act of harm (i.e. sexual harassment, discharge, refusal to promote) AND one protected class (i.e. age, sex, disability).

D

Demotion - Involuntary downgrading to a lower paid or otherwise less desirable job with reduced benefits or fewer opportunities for advancement.

Disability (non-job related) - Limitation of a major life function which does not substantially interfere with a person's ability to perform the essential functions of employment.*

*Uninsurability or increased cost of insurance under a group or employee insurance plan does NOT render a disability job-related.

Disability -  Physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of a person's major life activities; OR if a person has a record of an impairment; OR is regarded as having an impairment.

NOTE:  Disability does NOT include current, illegal use of or addiction to a controlled substance.

Discharge - Involuntary, permanent termination of employment status.

Docketed - A complaint is docketed when it is assigned to an investigator and placed into active investigation.

E

Employee - (Spelled "employe" in many PA statutes, including the PHRA) DOES NOT INCLUDE: anyone employed in agriculture or in domestic service residing in the personal residence of the employer or anyone employed by their parents, spouse or child. (See also Independent Contractor)

Employer - Any business with four or more employees in Pennsylvania. Certain exemptions apply to religious, fraternal, charitable, or sectarian corporations or associations, except those supported by government funds. 

Employment Agency - Includes any person who recruits, refers or places employees.

Exclusion - Failure or refusal of a labor organization to admit individuals to membership.

F

Familial Status - One or more individuals who have not attained the age of eighteen years being domiciled with: (1) a parent or other person having legal custody of such individual or individuals; or (2) the designee of such parent or other person having such custody, with the written permission of such parent or other person. The protections afforded against discrimination on the basis of familial status shall apply to any person who is pregnant or is in the process of securing legal custody of any individual who has not attained the age of 18 years. (Applies in housing & commerical property only)

Filed - A complaint is considered filed on the date a complete, verified complaint is received. 

G

Gender - Female* or Male

*Discrimination based on pregnancy is considered sex discrimination.

H

Harassment - Antagonism directed at an individual because of their race, religion, gender, age, etc.

Hiring - Hiring discrimination is failure or refusal of an employer to hire a person because of their race, sex, age, non-job related disability, etc.

Housing accommodation - Any building, structure, mobile home or facility, which is used as the home residence or sleeping place of one or more individuals, groups or families whether or not living independently of each other; and any vacant land offered for sale, lease. "Housing accommodation" does not include any personal residence offered for rent by the owner or lessee who resides there, or by his or her broker, salesperson, agent or employee.

I

Independent Contractor - Person in a profession or occupation regulated by the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs within the Pennsylvania Department of State or included in the Fair Housing Act.

Intimidation - Bothering, tormenting, troubling, ridiculing or coercing a person.  Can include any of the following: making or allowing jokes, epithets or graffiti; assignment of more difficult, unpleasant, menial or hazardous jobs; threats or verbal abuse; or application of stricter disciplinary measures such as verbal warnings, written reprimands or impositions of fines or temporary suspensions.

Involuntary Retirement - Compelling an employee to retire, usually because of his or her age.

J

Job Classification - Restriction of members of a particular race, religion, sex, disability to certain types of jobs or class of jobs.

K

No Terms Currently Listed

L

Labor Organization - An organization which exists for the purpose of collective bargaining or dealing with employers concerning grievances, terms or conditions relation to employment.

Lay Off - Temporary involuntary separation from the work force due to a lack of work.

M

Maternity - Treating a woman differently from others who are similar in their ability or inability to work for any employment-related purpose, based upon her pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, or her child care or health care responsibilities.

Medical Inquiry Exam - Requirement that a person take a medical exam prior to a job offer or respond to prohibited medical inquiries (on a job application or during a pre-employment interview).

N

National Origin - The country in which a person was born.

Non-job Related Disability - Limitation of a major life function which does not substantially interfere with a person's ability to perform the essential functions of the employment that a person applies for, is currently working at or has worked in the past.*

*Uninsurability or increased cost of insurance under a group or employee insurance plan does NOT render a disability job-related.

O

No Terms Currently Listed 

P

Paternity - Treating a man differently from others who are similar in their ability or inability to work for any employment related purpose based upon his child care or health care responsibilities.

Personal Residence - A building or structure containing living quarters occupied by a household.

Pregnancy - Treating a woman differently from others who are similar in their ability or inability to work for any employment-related purpose based upon her pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, or her child care or health care responsibilities.

Promotion - Advancement to a higher level of work with higher pay or more prestigious work environment.

Public Accommodation - Any facility, accommodation, resort or amusement which is open to, accepts or solicits the patronage of the general public, including government services.*

*Note:  The term "private" used to describe a club or other accommodation does not necessarily exclude it from the definition of a public accommodation.

 

Q

Qualifications - Factors or criteria used in determining a person's fitness for employment, referral, promotion, admission to membership in a labor organization, training or assignment to job or class of job.

R

Race - Examples: Asian/Pacific Islander, Native American, Black or White.

Real Estate-Related Transaction - Providing financial assistance for purchasing, selling, brokering, appraising, constructing, improving, repairing or maintaining a housing accommodation or commercial property.

Reasonable Accommodation - Allegations that an employer failed to provide reasonable accommodation to the known physical or mental limitations of a qualified individual with a disability. (i.e. an interpreter for an individual who is deaf or job restructuring for an individual who has a back impairment). Also includes religious accommodation (i.e. time off for religious holidays.)

Recall - System used to determine the order or sequence of persons called back from layoff status.

Reference Unfavorable - Providing potential employers with references designed to portray an individual in an unfavorable light because of the person's race, age, sex, etc.

Referral - Failure or refusal to nominate an applicant for hire, training or apprenticeship or nomination of an applicant for jobs or training other than those requested by the applicant based on the applicant's race, age, sex, etc.)

Reinstatement - Failure or refusal to reinstate a person as an employee.

Religion - Examples: Seventh-Day Adventist, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim or Protestant.

Respondent - The company, agency or person(s) the charge of discrimination is filed against.

Retaliation - Negative action or discrimination that occurs because a person previously filed a PHRC complaint, objected to discriminatory practices or assisted with an investigation.

S

Seniority - Length of service in employment or membership, usually pertains to referral, promotion, layoff, demotion or transfer situations.

Sex - Female or Male, includes discrimination based on pregnancy.

Sexual Harassment - Any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when submission is made a term or condition of employment; used as the basis for employment decisions; or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment.

Statute of Limitations - Under the PHRA, a complaint must be filed within 180 days of the alleged act of harm. Under the Pennsylvania Fair Educational Opportunities Act, a complaint must be filed within six months of the alleged act of harm.

Suspension - Suspension of employment or education status because of a person's race, sex, age, etc.

T

Tenure - Permanent employment status, generally in higher education, granted upon fulfillment of certain requirements.

Terms and Conditions - Denial or inequitable applications of rules relating to general working conditions which may or may not have monetary value. (i.e. failure to provide adequate tools or supplies, inequities in shift assignments or vacation preferences, restrictions as to mode of dress or appearance or benefits.)

Test - Use of written or oral tests or other evaluations in determining a person's fitness for employment, referral, promotion, admission to membership in a labor organization, training or assignment to a job or class of jobs.

Training - Failure or refusal to admit a person into a training program or job which will serve as a learning experience, sometimes involving a contractual arrangement between the employer, labor organization and the trainee.

U

Union Representation - Failure or refusal by a labor organization empowered to do so to process or diligently pursue a grievance or dispute.

V

No Terms Currently Listed 

W

Wages - Inequities in monetary compensation for work performed.  Wages include the hourly, weekly or monthly salary; tips, gratuities and commission on sales; and amounts paid for completion of specific items or work and general use of incentive rates or bonuses.

X

No Terms Currently Listed 

Y

No Terms Currently Listed

Z

No Terms Currently Listed