The complaint against you will be investigated by a PHRC investigator. In dealing with the investigator, you must give all the facts if the PHRC is to properly resolve the complaint.
- Names, dates, places, addresses, and details should be as accurate as possible.
- Make available to the investigator all witnesses and documents requested.
- The PHRC has the power to subpoena relevant witnesses or documents if necessary, but voluntary compliance will help speed the resolution of your case.
Keep all appointments with the PHRC, and call to postpone an appointment if necessary.
Keep your investigator advised of any change in you or your attorney's address or telephone number.
Pennsylvania law prohibits anyone from taking any action against:
- An individual because they have filed a complaint
- A witness who has testified or assisted in a PHRC proceeding
Anyone who has otherwise opposed any practice forbidden by the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA).
This is called retaliation, and the law protects those who oppose illegal behavior.
The fact-finding conference is often held by the PHRC as early in the process as possible. PHRC staff will conduct the conference, at which you and the complainant present evidence and documents.
- The fact-finding conference is designed to speed up the investigation and possibly help reach a fair settlement.
- The fact-finding conference is not a public proceeding or hearing.
A fact-finding conference may not be held in your case. There are several reasons why a fact-finding conference may not be held, which include the following:
- The case may be settled.
- A complainant or respondent may refuse to participate.
- The investigator may determine that a conference is not necessary based upon all of the circumstances.
If your complaint is not resolved at the fact-finding conference or if one is not held, the investigation will continue.
The investigator will:
- Interview the respondent
- Interview the complainant
- Interview other relevant witnesses
- Review all pertinent records and documents obtained through voluntary cooperation or subpoena
You may be asked to clarify your defense in the light of new information or to rebut further allegations of the complainant. Immediately notify the investigator if you learn or remember any additional information.
The PHRC investigation may:
- Find no probable cause or lack of jurisdiction and move to dismiss the complaint, or
- Find probable cause and act to correct the discrimination and its effects.
Cases may also be resolved by a:
- Voluntary settlement (agreed to by both parties) prior to a formal finding, or
- An administrative closure (e.g., if the complainant withdraws the case, files in court, or other administrative reasons).
You will be notified by mail if the PHRC dismisses the case.
Within one year after a complaint is filed with the PHRC, the complainant may bring action in a Court of Common Pleas or in Commonwealth Court if:
- The complaint has not been resolved, or
- The PHRC dismisses the complaint.
If the investigation establishes probable cause, efforts to adjust the complaint through conciliation (settlement) will take place as soon as possible. The respondent will be asked to:
- Cease and desist from the specific discriminatory act or practice involved in the complaint, and
- Implement whatever actions, programs, or compensation the PHRC deems necessary to remedy the discrimination uncovered in the investigation.
If there is no satisfactory adjustment through conciliation (settlement) after a probable cause finding, the PHRC may convene a public hearing at which testimony under oath is presented.
- A decision will be rendered and a legally enforceable order issued.
- This order may be appealed to Commonwealth Court.
In certain housing discrimination cases, parties will be permitted to elect court action instead of a PHRC public hearing.