Questions About PHRC Authority

  • Who and what is NOT covered by the laws PHRC enforces?

    • Employees of the Court system
    • Federal government employees
    • Agricultural and domestic workers
    • Most independent contractors not regulated by Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs
    • Elected officials
    • Age in public accommodations or education
    • Religion in religious and sectarian organizations
    • Sexual orientation, gender identity or expression 
    • Enforcement activities by the police (such as arrests)
    • Current use of illegal drugs (is not considered a disability) 
    • Private clubs, except those which fit the PHRA definition of "public accommodation" 
    • Housing for older persons (55 and over) are exempt from age and familial status restrictions
    • Familial status, except in housing
    • Businesses with fewer than four employees 

  • Where can I find PHRC's fair practices posters and informational materials?

    You can obtain PHRC required fair practices posters and informational materials free, by clicking Publications or by calling (717) 772-2845.

  • If the complaint filed against us is being investigated by (EEOC/HUD/local Human Rights Agency), do we have to answer the PHRC complaint, too?

    You must answer all complaints filed against you with the PHRC within 30 days.

  • What are the differences between EEOC, local civil rights commissions, HUD and PHRC?

    EEOC and HUD are federal agencies enforcing federal laws.  PHRC enforces state law, and local civil rights commissions enforce local ordinances. 

    There are differences in what is covered by each agency. For example, the EEOC has jurisdiction over Federal agencies - PHRC does not.  EEOC can investigate a complaint only if the employer has 15 or more employees nationwide.  PHRC has jurisdiction over employers who have 4 or more employees in Pennsylvania.  There are differences in the time period someone is allowed to file a complaint.  Some local commissions have jurisdiction over discrimination based on sexual orientation - PHRC does not.  Some local commissions do not have enforcement powers - PHRC does.  There are differences in what can be awarded if discrimination is found.  If a complaint is also alleging violations of federal laws enforced by Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or Housing and Urban Development (HUD), PHRC will file your complaint with the appropriate federal agency.  Many local agencies will refer complaints to PHRC.