Commission on Human Relations Statement on Discrimination Targeting Asian Populations

PITTSBURGH, PA (March 26, 2020) As numerous news outlets have been reporting, discrimination against people of Asian descent around the world and in the United States, has been increasing. This rise in discrimination is based on unfounded fear and misinformation surrounding COVID-19. Incidents of such unlawful and inexcusable discrimination include increases in the following: anti-Asian rhetoric, such as calling the novel coronavirus the “Chinese virus;” anti-Chinese social media posts; denial of services; avoiding Asian-owned business; making fraudulent claims to keep people away from Asian-owned business; harassment; vandalism; and physical assaults. While such racism and xenophobia are being fed by new, false beliefs, such behaviors are not new in our country. No matter the reasons, such actions will not be accepted or tolerated in the City of Pittsburgh.

Earlier this month it was reported that business was down 40 percent for Asian restaurants before non-essential businesses had to close, according to Marian Lien, president of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA). PghCHR has also become aware of actions such as people seeking medical treatment for having contact with persons of Asian descent. These actions are not only hurtful to those individuals, but harmful to our community as a whole. Pittsburgh prides itself on having a vibrant international community and we must stand with them during this time of fear and confusion and speak out against racist rhetoric.

You can support our international community through the following actions: buy food , supplies, or a gift card from a locally-owned Asian business; volunteer with a local non-profit serving vulnerable groups; reach out virtually to ensure the well-being of neighbors, friends, and colleagues; speak out when you hear racist and xenophobic comments; encourage reporting of discriminatory and hateful actions- even if PghCHR is not able to investigate these claims, we will always provide resources for agencies that may be able to help.

The Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations (“PghCHR”) exists to ensure that members of the Pittsburgh community are treated fairly, equitably, and equally. That includes ensuring that people do not have to live in fear of discrimination. PghCHR stands with our racial social justice partners across the U.S. and the Pittsburgh community to denounce all acts of hate and discrimination, including the recent acts of hate and discrimination against Asian persons. We want to assure the Pittsburgh community that, despite the workplace impacts of the novel coronavirus, the PghCHR is continuing to receive inquiries and investigate complaints and remains committed to combating hate and discrimination.

As the City’s civil rights law enforcement agency, the PghCHR investigates and resolves complaints of discrimination in employment, public accommodations (such as businesses open to the public), and housing (such as renting or buying), based on membership in a protected class. If you or someone you know has experienced discrimination while in the City of Pittsburgh within the past year and wants to file a complaint, you can contact the PghCHR by phone at 412-436-9619, and online at



Megan Stanley

Executive Director, Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations

Telephone: 412-360-9553



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