Pennsylvania File

 

How do I file a claim with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission?

 

In order to bring a claim for an alleged unlawful discriminatory practice, you should draft, sign, and file a verified written complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC)1. Your claim must contain your name as well as the name and address of the person, employer, or organization alleged to have committed the discrimination. You cannot file anonymously.

 

The PHRC Process


  1. Where to file – To begin the complaint process, you must file your complaint with one of the three PHRC regional offices. You may also file by mail. To determine where you should file, please see the PHRC county map at http://sites.state.pa.us/PA_Exec/PHRC/offices/regional_map.html. 2
  2. What you must include in your complaint – Your signed, written complaint must include your name and the name and address of the employer or organization against which you are alleging discrimination.4
  3. Time Limits – You must file your complaint with the PHRC within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory act. While there may be an exception if you are not at fault for exceeding this time limit, it is subjective. Make sure to file within the 180 day period, if possible.
  4. Costs – There is no cost to file a complaint.
  5. Once you have filed a complaint – If the PHRC determines your complaint has merit, it will initiate a prompt investigation. If, however, the PHRC determines your complaint to be outside its jurisdiction, frivolous, or outside the 180-day statute of limitations, it will dismiss the complaint.

 

What can I expect from the PHRC process?

 

Unless the PHRC dismisses your complaint, it will make your employer aware of the complaint and complete an investigation into the merits of the claim. If the PHRC finds that discrimination may have taken place, it will attempt to reach a settlement between you and your employer. If no settlement is reached, the PHRC may hold a hearing in which your employer must respond to the allegations contained in your complaint. 6 After the hearing, if the PHRC finds that discrimination has occurred, a number of remedies are available, including reinstatement, compensation for loss of income, and reimbursement for expenses accrued while pursuing the complaint. 7

 

What if the PHRC dismisses my complaint?

 

If the PHRC dismisses your discrimination claim, you may file independently in a Court of Common Pleas under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA). You must file this second complaint within two years of the date the PHRC complaint was dismissed. 8

 

Can I file a complaint on my own?

 

Pennsylvania courts have held that that the PHRC process is the only available channel for initiating a sex discrimination complaint. 9 However, if your PHRC complaint is still open after one year or if the PHRC dismisses your claim, you may file independently in court under the PHRA. 10

 

 

1 43 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 959 (West 2010).
2 Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, http://sites.state.pa.us/PA_Exec/PHRC/index.html (last visited Mar. 2, 2010 ).
3 Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, http://sites.state.pa.us/PA_Exec/PHRC/faq/complaint_questions.html (last visited Mar. 2, 2010).
4 43 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 959 (West 2010).
5 Id. at § 959(h).
6 Id. at § 959(d).
7 Id. at § 959(f)(1).
8 Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, http://sites.state.pa.us/PA_Exec/PHRC/faq/legal_questions.html (last visited Mar. 2, 2010).
9 Householder v. Kensington Mfg. Co., 520 A.2d 461 (Pa. Super Ct. 1987); Clay v. Advanced Computer Applications, Inc., 559 A.2d 917, 919 (Pa. 1989); Weaver v. Harpster, 885 A.2d 1073 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2005).
10 Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, http://sites.state.pa.us/PA_Exec/PHRC/faq/legal_questions.html (last visited Mar. 2, 2010).