The Commission on Human Relations is a law enforcement agency which derives its authority from the City Fair Practices Provisions found in Article V, Chapters 651 through 659 of the Pittsburgh City Code.
These provisions make it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of
- familial status (housing only)
- age (over 40)
- national origin
- place of birth
- sexual orientation
- gender identity or expression
- handicap or disability
- status as a survivor of domestic violence (housing only)
Powers & Duties
The Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations (CHR) investigates complaints of alleged discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations within the City of Pittsburgh. CHR is tasked with investigating civil rights violations and any conditions having an adverse effect on intergroup relations in the city. In addition, CHR conducts community education and other outreach programs for schools, community groups, businesses, professional organizations and City departments in order to promote equal rights and opportunities for all who work, live or visit our city. For over 50 years, CHR has successfully resolved issues of unfair and discriminatory practices faced by Pittsburgh residents.
Commission representatives and Commissioners work hard to resolve any discrimination complaints that come before the Commission. The 15 persons who are members of the Commission on Human Relations serve without pay and are appointed to four-year terms of office by the Mayor.
The Commission on Human Relations employs a director and staff. In addition to reviewing the findings of staff, the Commission may hold public hearings, subpoena witnesses and compel their attendance, require the production of evidence, make findings of fact, issue orders and publish such findings of fact and orders.
The Commission is divided into two sections: the Public Hearing and Compliance Review Section. Commissioners are appointed to sections by the Chairperson and no Commissioner may serve concurrently in both Sections.
- The Compliance Review Section reviews case determinations by CHR staff with regard to whether probable causes exists for an unlawful discriminatory practice complaint and approve or disapprove findings by majority vote.
- The Public Hearing Section conducts public hearings upon majority vote of the Compliance Review Section, and renders the Commission’s final decisions regarding cases.
When probable cause is found that someone has been unlawfully discriminated against, the Commission has the authority to collect depositions from the both complainant and the faulty party in order to work toward a satisfactory resolution. When such agreements cannot be made, the Commission may seek legal enforcement of its decisions.
If there is insufficient evidence to substantiate a finding of probable cause, the case will be closed. Under the Pittsburgh City Code, Chapter 655.04, and Rule 13 of the Commission's Rules and Regulations, either party may request reconsideration of the Commission's determination. To do so, a party must notify the Commission in writing within ten (10) days of receipt of the letter notifying the party that the case has been closed.
Rules and Regulations
View CHR's Rules and Regulations.
There are many sections of the Pittsburgh City Code which pertain specifically to Fair Practice. To read these sections, go to our online version of the Pittsburgh City Code, located at Municode.com.
Tips for using the HTML version of the code:
1. On the Municode.com website, click on the link for Pittsburgh, PA Code of Ordinances
2. In the left-side navigation bar, double-click on the folder icon before Title VI: Conduct.
3. Next, double-click on the small folder before Article V: Discrimination.
4. Then, double-click on the small folder before the chapter that you would like to read.
5. Finally, double-click on the small page graphic before the chapter section that you would like to read.
- Reduce compliance case processing time.
- Enhance intergroup and community relations by increasing the number of educational and outreach programs.
- Increase compliance by employers, housing and service providers with civil rights laws and reduce incidents of community tensions.
- Promote greater awareness and appreciation for the cultural diversity of the City.