Federal Civil Rights Laws, Agencies & Resources
Note: This page is intended to serve as a resource to direct you to federal civil rights laws and enforcement agencies. It is for informational purposes only and is not an exhaustive list.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 - prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. Amendments include the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, the Civil Rights Act of 1991 and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA, federal law) - enforced by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The PA Human Relations Act defines accessible as "in compliance with the applicable standards set forth in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990".
The Fair Housing Act (federal law) - enforced by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The PA Human Relations Act defines accessible as "in compliance with the Fair Housing Act". If someone files a complaint with PHRC, making an allegation that violates the Fair Housing Act, we will also file the complaint with HUD.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) - EEOC is the federal agency that enforces laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. If someone files a complaint with PHRC alleging a violation of the EEOC, we may also file their complaint with EEOC. The EEOC may also "dual file" such a complaint with PHRC. Only one agency investigates the case. PHRC holds cases being investigated by the EEOC open until EEOC closes them, deciding at that point whether to close the case as well, or open it for further investigation. This preserves the complainant's rights under both state and federal law.
Laws enforced by EEOC include:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
- The Equal Pay Act of 1963
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA)
- Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)
- Sections 102 and 103 of the Civil Rights Act of 1991
- Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
- The Genetic Information and Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA)
U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights - This office serves student populations facing discrimination and institutions promoting systemic solutions to civil rights problems. It resolves complaints of discrimination. PHRC and the U.S. Department of Education do not have a formal arrangement to dual file cases, but may refer cases to one another, or work cooperatively to resolve issues in Pennsylvania educational institutions. Both agencies share the common goal of promoting equal educational opportunity.
U.S. Department of Justice Office for Civil Rights (OCR) - investigates complaints from those who believe an agency funded by the the Justice Department has discriminated against them in employment or the delivery of goods and services. PHRC refers complaints to the OCR. We work with their Community Relations Service (CRS) to provide training in communities and schools to resolve or prevent conflicts and tension arising from differences of race, color, national origin or religion.
U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division - federal agency that enforces the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. The Dept. of Labor enforces other labor laws and fair workplace practice laws, such as minimum wage and child labor laws. [Note: Pennsylvania's labor laws are enforced primarily by the PA Department of Labor & Industry.]
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office for Civil Rights - This office works to protect your fundamental rights of nondiscrimination and health insurance information privacy. PHRC does not have a formal relationship with the office, but may refer inquiries from Pennsylvanians seeking information about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) as it relates to federal civil rights laws.