Every state has laws in place to protect workers’ rights. The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) protects residents from unlawful discrimination based on several protected categories, including age, race, and religion. The PHRA addresses discrimination in housing, commercial property, education and public accommodations, and employment.
The PHRA makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate against a worker based on their:
- Earning a diploma through a general education test (GED)
- Known association with a disabled individual
- National origin
- Non-job-related disability
- Willingness or refusal to participate in abortion or sterilization
Workplace discrimination takes many forms. It can be overt, like racial slurs or other offensive comments, or it can be subtle, such as being passed over for a promotion, even if you are the most qualified applicant.
Where to File
In Pennsylvania, state and federal agencies have a work-sharing agreement, meaning they cooperate on discrimination claims. Workers only need to file their claim with one agency. However, if you want to file a claim with multiple agencies, you must notify the agency that you want to cross-file your claim with the other.
If your workplace employs between four and fourteen employees, you would file a claim with the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission (PHRC). The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency that handles claims for companies with 15 or more workers. Consult your employment lawyer to find out which option best applies to you.
When to File
In Pennsylvania, workers have 180 days to file a claim with the PHRC or 300 days to file with the EEOC. These deadlines begin the day you believe you were discriminated against. Some counties and towns have their own local ordinances against discrimination, which may have shorter deadlines. For that reason, you should never delay filing a claim.
What Happens After a Claim is Filed
After you file a charge with the EEOC, you will receive a copy of your charge with a claim number. The EEOC will also send a notice and copy of your charge to your employer within 10 days. The EEOC may decide to:
- Request mediation between you and your employer
- Ask your employer to provide a written response to your charge and forward your claim to an investigator
- Dismiss your claim if the deadline has passed or has been filed in the wrong jurisdiction
If an investigator determines discrimination did not occur, they will issue a Notice of Right to Sue in a court of law. If they determine your claim is valid, they will pursue a voluntary settlement with your employer.
Allegheny County Employment Law Lawyers at AlpernSchubert P.C. Protect the Rights of Workers
After you have exhausted the preliminary options, and your case was not resolved by the EEOC or PHRC, you may choose to pursue your claim in court. To discuss your situation with an Allegheny County employment law lawyer at AlpernSchubert P.C., call 412-765-1888 or contact the firm using the convenient online contact form. Located in Pittsburgh, we serve clients throughout western Pennsylvania.