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About the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) enforces state laws that prohibit discrimination. These state laws include:

In general, Pennsylvania law prohibits discrimination based on:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religious creed
  • Ancestry
  • Age (40 and over)
  • Sex
  • National origin
  • Familial status (only in housing)
  • Handicap or disability and the use, handling, or training of support or guide animals for disability
  • Retaliation for filing a complaint, opposing unlawful behavior, or assisting investigations is also illegal.

Investigation of Federal Discrimination Complaints

To protect the rights of complainants under state and federal law, the PHRC also investigates:

Discrimination Education

The law empowers the PHRC to educate the public to:

  • Prevent discrimination
  • Foster equal opportunity
  • Address incidents of bias that may lead to tension between racial, ethnic, and other groups

Leadership and Commissioners​

The PHRC administrative, legal, and investigative staff is led by an executive director in Harrisburg and regional directors in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.

  • Eleven commissioners, appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Pa. Senate, act as public liaisons, establish policies, and resolve some cases that are not settled voluntarily.
  • The commission is independent and nonpartisan, with no more than six commissioners from one political party.
  • The chairperson is appointed by the governor.
  • The vice-chairperson, secretary, and assistant secretary are elected by commissioners each year.
  • Learn more about the PHRC commissioners.

Strategic Plan

In the summer of 2014, the PHRC adopted a three-year strategic plan to guide commission work and priorities and focus on the agency's mission, vision, and values.

Public Meetings

The PHRC holds monthly public meetings and encourages the public to address issues of discrimination or civil tension in their communities.

Advisory Councils

The PHRC Advisory Councils serve as liaisons in their communities and work to raise public awareness of civil rights issues.

State and Federal Financial Information