What Is PHRC And What Does It Do?

Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) does on the state level what EEOC does on the national level. Basically, the goal is to prevent and prohibit discrimination. PHRC upholds the state laws and ensures that they are followed in every capacity.

With this in mind, PHRC formed to uphold the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act and the Pennsylvania Fair Educational Opportunities Act. These state laws cover much of the same areas as the Title VII. However, they are more specific to Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania State Laws

Pennsylvania Human Relations Act

Discrimination is illegal according to this act in the following specific areas. Moreover, this act is a thorough and detailed law with specific language to describe its purpose in fighting discrimination. Although precise, this can make handling your situation under PHRC more difficult.

  • Employment
  • Housing
  • Commercial Property
  • Education
  • Public Accommodation

What are the difference between Title VII and the PHRA?

Pennsylvania Fair Educational Opportunities Act

The law marks discrimination illegal in post-secondary education and secondary vocational and trade school situations. Pennsylvania believes that all people should have the equal opportunity to pursue higher education regardless of age, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, and sex. This law works to provide non-discriminatory practices to all schools and hopes to prevent discrimination on this level.

What Does PHRC Do?

PHRC’s goal is to guard against discrimination in employment, housing, commercial property, education, and public accommodation. In other words, this commission supports equality. If you feel that you’ve experienced discrimination in one of these areas, you can file a complaint with PHRC. The time limit to file is 180 days from the date of the action.

The Inner Workings Of PHRC

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission functions with three main branches of administrative, legal, and investigative departments. The executive director resides in Harrisburg and oversees the regional directors in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. Additionally, eleven commissioners strive to uphold policies and resolve issues that cannot be resolved voluntarily. Moreover, the commission is not affiliated with any party, and there can be no more than six commissioners of one political party.

The PHRC established a three-year strategic plan, in 2014, to focus on upholding their mission and vision.

Their goals include the following.

  • timely resolution of discrimination complaints
  • relevant training to promote equal opportunity
  • efficient agency operations

And their detailed, yearly plans outline how they will improve on each of these goals during the three-year time period.

The Complaint Process With PHRC

If and when you report a complaint to PHRC, they will file it with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Housing and Urban Development if your case applies under those federal laws as well.

After a complaint is filed with PHRC, the situation will be assigned an investigator. During the investigation process, the investigator will interview you and other parties to check into your claim. When the claim is established, you may have your case taken to a public hearing to resolve the issue.

The goal of PHRC is to resolve your discrimination complaint and prevent similar situations from occurring in the future.


If you find yourself in the stressful situation of discrimination and you would like legal counsel, contact a PHRC lawyer who will know how to navigate your situation and what your rights are under the law.

Don’t hesitate, talk to an employment attorney: (412) 626-5626 or lawyer@lawkm.com