[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).
A complaint charging that any person has engaged in or is engaging in any unlawful practice as set forth in this code may be made by the Commission, by the aggrieved person or by any organization which has as one of its purposes the combating of discrimination or the promotion of equal opportunities; any complaint may be amended any time before final action has been taken by the Commission in accordance with such rules and regulations as the Commission shall prescribe.
Upon the filing of a complaint, the Commission shall promptly serve notice on the respondent or person charged with the commission of a discriminatory practice, advising the respondent of his or her procedural rights and obligations, including the obligation to file a written answer to the complaint within 30 days, together with a copy of the complaint.
The complaint and answer shall be in writing, signed and verified, and shall include the name and address of the person or persons alleged to have committed the unlawful practice and the particulars thereof and such other information as may be required by the Commission.
No complaint shall be considered unless it is filed with the Commission within 180 days after the complainant learned or should have learned of the occurrence of the alleged unlawful practice.
The Commission shall commence investigation with respect to a complaint before the end of the 30th day after receipt of the complaint.
Investigations of complaints regarding discriminatory housing accommodations shall be completed in no more than 100 days after the receipt of a complaint, and if the Commission is not able to complete the investigation within 100 days it shall notify the complainant and the respondent in writing of the reasons for not doing so. In the event that the Commission is unable to complete the investigation within 100 days after the receipt of any complaint, the Commission will, upon written request of the complainant, close the case.
Final disposition of complaints regarding discriminatory housing accommodations shall be made within one year after receipt of the complaint, unless it is impracticable. As to all other complaints, the Commission will attempt to achieve final administrative disposition within one year after receipt of the complaint unless it is impracticable to do so. If the Commission is unable to do so, it shall notify the complainant and respondent in writing of its reasons for not doing so.
If the Commission determines that there is no basis for the allegations in the complaint, the complaint shall be dismissed and the complainant so notified in writing, which notice shall contain the following information:
Within 10 days from the receipt of such notice of dismissal, the complainant or his or her attorney may file with the Commission a request for review, and the Commission shall provide the complainant an opportunity to appear before the Commission or a member thereof. After such review the Commission may reverse its decision or, if the Commission or its representative determines that there is no basis for the complaint, the dismissal of the complaint shall be affirmed, and there shall be no further review of such decision by the Commission.
Any final order of the Commission is reviewable in the Court of Common Pleas within 30 days of its issuance.
Unless otherwise ordered by the Court of Common Pleas, any timely appeal shall operate as a supersedeas of the Commission's order, provided that any order or portion of any order of the Commission requiring the preservation of the subject matter of the complaint (e.g., housing unit) shall remain in force unless specifically negated by the Court of Common Pleas.
If the Commission determines after investigation that probable cause exists for the allegations made in the complaint, it may attempt to eliminate the unlawful practice by means of private conferences or by reaching a conciliation agreement with all parties.
The Commission shall not make public any matters relating to efforts to adjust the complaint, but it shall publish the terms of an agreement once a complaint has been satisfactorily adjusted. Once a conciliation agreement is reached, it shall be made public unless the complainant and the respondent otherwise agree and the Commission determines that disclosure is not required to further the purposes of this code.
Any conciliation agreement arising out of the efforts of the Commission shall be an agreement between the respondent and complainant but shall be subject to the approval of the Commission.
[Amended 12-11-2007 by Ord. No. 31-2007]
In any case of failure to resolve the complaint by means of informal proceedings, or in advance thereof, and if in the judgment of the Commission the facts so warrant, the Commission shall hold a public hearing to determine whether or not an unlawful practice has been committed or, without holding such a hearing, direct its Solicitor to take action in accordance with Chapter 4-109.
When a public hearing is ordered, the Commission shall designate one or more members to conduct such a hearing. The Commission shall serve upon the respondent, if it has not already done so, a copy of the complaint and any amended complaint and a notice of the time and place of the hearing. The hearing shall ordinarily be held not less than 10 days after the service of such notice.
The Commission shall, upon serving the respondent with the complaint, inform the respondent of his or her rights and obligations, including the obligation to file an answer to the complaint within 30 days, to appear at any hearing in person or be represented by an attorney or, subject to the approval of the hearing panel, by any other person, and to examine and cross-examine witnesses.
The complainant shall also have the right to be represented by an attorney or, subject to the approval of the hearing panel, any other person.
When notice of hearing is given in cases alleging unlawful housing practices, either party may elect to have the claim asserted in a civil action brought under the original jurisdiction of the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas or the Court of Common Pleas for the county in which the alleged practice occurred. The written notice of the Commission shall be sent to all parties and will inform them of their right to take civil action. An election shall notify the Commission and all other parties.
If, upon all the evidence presented, the Commission finds that the respondent has not engaged in any unlawful practice, it shall state its findings of fact and conclusions in writing and dismiss the complaint.
If, upon all the evidence presented, the Commission finds that the respondent has engaged or is engaging in an unlawful practice, it shall state its findings of fact and conclusions in writing and shall issue an order in writing as the facts warrant to effectuate the purposes of this code. Such order may provide for any remedy that is available to the Commission under common law (law or equity), federal law or state law which regulates actual damages or other civil remedies and which may include but is not limited to:
Requiring the respondent to cease and desist from such unlawful practice and to take affirmative action, including but not limited to the hiring, reinstatement or upgrading of employees, with or without back pay and with or without damages;
Admission or restoration to membership in any respondent labor organization;
The selling, renting, or leasing of a housing accommodation or housing accommodations upon equal terms and conditions and with such equal facilities, services, and privileges as the Commission may determine;
The tendering of money, whether or not secured by mortgage or otherwise, for the acquisition, construction, rehabilitation, repair, or maintenance of any housing accommodation; or
The granting, permitting, selling or admitting to any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, services or privileges, products, or goods of any respondent place of public accommodation upon such terms and conditions to any person discriminated against, or to all persons as, in the judgment of the Commission, will effectuate the purposes of this code and are warranted by the facts presented at the hearing, including a requirement for a report or reports of the manner of compliance.
In cases of discrimination in housing accommodation, the Commission may, if necessary, arrange to have adjudicated in court, at Commission expense, an award of punitive damages against the respondent.
Copies of all orders shall be served on all parties.
If the Commission enters any final order, whether it is to dismiss the complaint, grant an award of relief, compensation or other remedy in favor of the complainant or grant an award in favor of the respondent, the party aggrieved by this final order may seek judicial review of that decision in a court of competent jurisdiction. The court may then make any other order that it determines to be just and proper based upon the record of the proceedings before the Commission, including to set aside, affirm, modify, or remand, in whole or in part, the decision of the Commission or to grant any temporary relief that it deems appropriate.