The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) is the state agency tasked with addressing unlawful discrimination. In Pennsylvania, it is unlawful to discriminate against individuals in employment, housing, educational, commercial property, and public accommodations contexts. The PHRC investigates thousands of complaints of discrimination each year, but a recent investigation has found that very few of these complaints result in formal action.
Pennsylvania laws prohibit discrimination based on race, age, sex, ancestry, national origin, familial status, religion, disability, graduation status, refusal to participate in abortion or sterilization procedures, and the use of support or service animals. Not only do state laws protect people from these types of discrimination, but retaliation against an individual for complaining about discrimination to the PHRC is also prohibited.
In the current PHRC climate, it is more important than ever to ensure that you are represented by an experienced civil rights lawyer. The commission has a budget of approximately $11 million yet struggles to handle the work that it is tasked with fielding from the public. According to a PHRC spokesperson, it takes the PHRC an average of 500 days to close a harassment or civil rights case. Prior to 2013, the agency posted annual complaint totals and resolutions on its website for public access. The practice has since stopped, leaving the PHRC with little accountability on its website for the public.
In a recent news investigation, a PHRC staff attorney reported that although the number of complaints has remained the same over the years, staffing levels have decreased due to attrition, thus increasing the case workload of PHRC workers. In 2017, there were approximately 3,200 complaints of discrimination and harassment; this is about the number of complaints that were publicly reported on PHRC’s website in 2013, before policies changed and those numbers ceased to be reported.
Due to the commission’s limited resources, it is critical to have an aggressive civil rights attorney in your corner to ensure your voice is heard. Although anyone can file a complaint with the PHRC, an experienced lawyer will know exactly how to cut through the red tape and craft an effective, efficient complaint on your behalf.
If you believe that you have been a victim of discrimination in the state of Pennsylvania, contact an experienced Pennsylvania civil rights lawyer at Williams Cedar today to schedule your free consultation. Call us at 215-557-0099 or contact us online. With locations in Haddonfield, New Jersey and Philadelphia, we serve clients nationwide.