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City of Philadelphia

Discrimination & Enforcement FAQ

What services do you provide?

We investigate and resolve claims of illegal discrimination involving workplaces, public spaces, and properties in Philadelphia. Our services cover three main areas: (1) employment discrimination; (2) public accommodations discrimination; and (3) housing and real property discrimination.

As part of our investigative work, we often provide related assistance, such as helping people draft and file their complaints or helping the parties settle their dispute. If our investigation finds evidence that discrimination has occurred, our Commissioners can resolve the dispute by holding a public hearing and issuing an order to address any discrimination they determine has occurred. The public hearing is like a trial where the Commissioners are the judges.

What kind of discrimination complaints do you handle?

We handle complaints of illegal discrimination in three main areas: (1) employment; (2) public accommodations; and (3) housing and real property. The discrimination you complain of must be based on one of the following categories:

• Age (40+ in employment and all ages in housing)
• Ancestry
• Color
• Disability
• Domestic and Sexual Violence
• Ethnicity
• Familial Status
• Gender Identity
• Genetic Information (in employment)
• Marital Status
• National Origin
• Race
• Religion
• Retaliation for Complaining of Discrimination
• Sex
• Sexual Orientation
• Source of Income (in housing)

Who is eligible to request your services?

Anyone who works in Philadelphia may request our employment discrimination services. Anyone who owns or rents property in Philadelphia may request our housing and real property discrimination services. And anyone who lives, works or visits Philadelphia may request our public accommodation services.

Can I remain anonymous?

Unfortunately, you may not. In order to investigate your discrimination complaint, we will need to inform the person or organization you accuse of discrimination that you have filed a complaint against them.

Are there any charges or fees for your services?

There are no charges or fees for our services.

Is there a time limit for filing a discrimination complaint?

Yes. You must file your complaint within 300 days of the alleged act of discrimination, unless you have a valid legal justification for not filing within this period.

How do I file a complaint?

If you believe you have been the victim of unlawful discrimination, you may file a complaint with our office using our Complaint of Discrimination form or a substantial equivalent. Your complaint must provide enough detail to inform the Commission and the respondent (the person or company named in your complaint as responsible) of the timing, location and facts of the alleged discrimination. Our staff can help you prepare and file a complaint.

How long does the whole process take?

The time it takes to investigate a complaint can vary greatly, depending on the facts of the case and the size of our workload. It may take several months or even longer to investigate your complaint.

Do I need an attorney to file a complaint?

You do not need an attorney to file a complaint or at any point during our investigation. But you have the right to have someone represent you, and an attorney may be helpful, especially if you wish to take your case to court or your case goes to a public hearing before our Commissioners. The person or organization you accuse of discrimination is likely to have an attorney represent them.

We cannot provide you an attorney or serve as your attorney at any point in your discrimination complaint process. Our staff must be neutral during the investigation of your complaint.

How do I request your services?

You can talk with one of our Human Relations Intake Representatives by calling 215-686-4670, sending an email, or faxing your information to 215-686-4684.