PHRC asks for public comment on emotional distress damages guidance

Provides clarity on how the PHRC evaluates housing and commercial property discrimination cases

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) is asking for the public to provide feedback on its guidance on emotional distress damages for housing and commercial property discrimination cases.

The purpose of this guidance is to provide clarity to all Pennsylvanians regarding how the PHRC will evaluate damages resulting from discrimination in housing and/or commercial property for humiliation and embarrassment. This guidance also clarifies the PHRC’s assessment of civil penalties.

“Access to housing should come free from bias based on race, religion, national origin, sex, disability, or family status,” said PHRC Chief Counsel Meredith Millard, Esq. “When individuals are denied housing due to discrimination, the impacts can be far reaching and long-term. The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act recognizes the impact discrimination has on public health and welfare and this guidance will seek to provide a framework for the commission to award monetary damages due to embarrassment and humiliation.”

In issuing this guidance, the PHRC reiterates its longstanding position that no two cases are the same. This guidance is not intended to impose hard and fast rules that must be absolutely applied without regard to the specific facts involved. Nothing in this guidance shall affect statutory or other regulatory requirements.

Discrimination exists in all Pennsylvania communities. The PHRC recognizes that this guidance has widespread impact and is soliciting feedback from both landlords and renters in Pennsylvania.

Public comments will be accepted via survey from May 6 through 31, 2024. Before submitting comments, please read the guidance here.

About PHRC: The PHRC, the state’s civil rights enforcement agency, urges anyone who has experienced acts of discrimination or hate to file a complaint by calling 717-787-4410.  Information and resources are also available at Follow the PHRC on X, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube, and subscribe to our monthly newsletter.


PHRC Media Contact Details

Amanda Brothman

Communications Director 771-856-5971
Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission Media