[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Harrisburg by Ord. No. 17-1992. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Pennsylvania Human Relations Act: Act of Oct. 27, 1955, P.L. 744, as amended (43 P.S. § 951 et seq.).
Rental housing discrimination: see 35 P.S. § 1680.402a.
Service uniform discrimination: see Crimes Code (18 Pa.C.S.A. § 7323).
There is hereby established the Harrisburg Human Relations Commission to administer, implement and enforce the provisions of this code.
[Amended 7-19-2000 by Ord. No. 20-2000]
The Commission shall consist of nine members, eight of whom shall be appointed by the Mayor as provided below, and one of whom shall be appointed by City Council by resolution. The Mayor shall appoint or reappoint a Commissioner within 90 days of the occurrence of a vacancy or the expiration of a term of a member. If the Mayor does not act on a vacancy or expired term within 90 days, Council may appoint a person by resolution to fill such vacancy. Should the Council fail to make its appointment within 90 days of the occurrence of a vacancy or the expiration of the term of its member, the Mayor may nominate a citizen to fill the vacancy.
The Mayor shall, with the advice and consent of Council, appoint the members from a broadly representative cross section of the racial, ethnic and economic groups of the City. Members shall be residents of the City. Members may be reappointed. Persons appointed and qualified as Commissioners shall serve for a term of three years; provided, however, that in making the first appointments to the Commission three members shall be appointed for a term of one year each, three members shall be appointed for terms of two years each, and three members shall be appointed for terms of three years each.
The Commission shall elect one of its members as Chairperson and may elect such other officers as it deems necessary. The Chairperson may, with the approval of the Commission, appoint such committees as may be necessary to carry out the powers and the duties of the Commission, and the Commission may authorize such committees to take any necessary action for the Commission.
The Commission shall adopt such rules and regulations for its own organization, operations, and procedures as it deems necessary to administer, implement and enforce this code.
The Commission shall hold at least 10 meetings in different months during each calendar year. Five members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business, and a majority vote of those present at any meeting shall be sufficient for any official action taken by the Commission, except that approval of a majority of all members shall be required before any public hearing may be held.
Commission members failing to attend three consecutive meetings shall forfeit their seats, unless the Chairperson of the Commission receives written notification from the member involved that the absence was due to personal illness or the death or illness of an immediate family member. Should any Commission member fail to attend three consecutive meetings without providing the notification set forth above, the Chairperson of the Commission (or the Executive Director, if the absent member is the Chairperson) shall notify the Mayor and the City Council of a vacancy on the Commission by virtue of said member's unauthorized absences.
When gathering for monthly meetings, the Commission shall comply with all commonwealth or local public notice requirements.
The members of the Commission shall serve without compensation, but they may be reimbursed for all necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties in accordance with appropriations made by Council.
The Human Relations Commission shall have the power and duty to:
Initiate, receive and investigate charges of unlawful practices as set forth in this code and seek satisfactory adjustment of the same, including conciliation;
Initiate or receive and investigate other complaints of discrimination against any person because of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, place of birth, sex, age, handicap or disability or the use of guide or support animals, marital status, familial status, general education development certificate (GED), or sexual preference/orientation and seek the satisfactory adjustment of such complaints, including conciliation;
Certify to the City Solicitor or other appropriate public official(s) for such action as may be proper any complaint filed under this code which the Commission believes may constitute a violation of a law of the United States of America or the commonwealth;
Issue subpoenas and subpoenas duces tecum, either at its instance or upon written application of any party to a proceeding, whenever necessary to compel the attendance of witnesses or to require the production for examination of any books, payrolls, personnel records, correspondence, documents, papers or any other evidence relating to any matter under investigation or in question before the Commission or any member thereof. The issuance of such subpoenas and subpoenas duces tecum at the instance of a party to the proceeding shall depend upon a showing of necessity therefor;
Hold public hearings, subpoena witnesses and compel their attendance, administer oaths, take the testimony of any person under oath and, in connection therewith, require the production of evidence relating to any matter under investigation or any question before the Commission, make findings of fact, issue orders, publish findings of fact and orders and do all other things necessary and proper for the enforcement of this code. The Commission shall not be bound by the strict rules of evidence prevailing in the courts of law or equity. The testimony taken at the hearing shall be under oath and shall be transcribed;
Hold an investigatory hearing on its own motion whenever any problem of racial discrimination or racial tension arises. The hearing may be public or private, and the Commission shall have the same powers provided in Subsection E hereof. The Commission shall gather all the facts from all the interested parties and make such recommendations as may be necessary. Should the recommendations of the Commission not be accepted within a reasonable time, the Commission may, with the consent of the majority of members, initiate a complaint based upon the findings resulting from the hearings, and thereafter the procedure shall be the same as if an individual complaint had been filed, or, if the Commission believes that federal or commonwealth law has been violated, it may refer the matter to the City Solicitor or other appropriate public official for such action as may be proper;
Institute and conduct education and other programs to promote the equal rights and opportunities of all persons, regardless of their race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, place of birth, sex, age, handicap or disability or the use of guide or support animals, marital status, familial status, sexual preference/orientation, or GED, and to promote understanding among persons of different races, colors, religions, ancestries, national origins, or places of birth. In the performance of its duties, the Commission may cooperate with interested citizens, private agencies and agencies of the federal, commonwealth and local governments;
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1-303).
Issue publications, reports of investigation and research in the field of human relations and cooperate with and accept grants from public and private agencies, including foundations, agencies of the commonwealth and federal government, and colleges and universities engaged in similar research;
Establish a program for the collection and dissemination of information designed to dispel rumors and halt their circulation and establish programs designed to increase communication between and eliminate prejudice among the various racial, religious and nationality groups;
Appoint an Executive Director and such other employees and agents as it may deem necessary, fix their compensation within the limits provided by law and prescribe their duties;
Assure and assist the enforcement of fair employment practices by persons contracting directly or indirectly with the City;
Render from time to time, but not less than once a year, a written report of its activities and recommendations to the Mayor and to Council; and
Adopt such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the purposes and provisions of this code.