Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission

Public Accommodation Discrimination

Under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA), a public accommodation is a business or public space open to the public. This includes restaurants, government buildings, shopping centers, amusement parks, and more.

What is illegal public accommodation discrimination?

In public accommodations, it is illegal to discriminate against someone based on:

Retaliation is also illegal, and the law protects you if you stand up against discrimination.

Public accommodation discrimination can happen when you are:

  • Denied access or admission to a business or public place (including local and state government property).
  • Denied the same service others receive.
  • Physically disabled and unable to access services due to a physical barrier or other issue.

Frequently Asked Questions

  •  A restaurant owner refuses to serve a customer wearing religious headgear.
  • A delivery service will not deliver to a largely minority neighborhood but serves surrounding non-minority neighborhoods.
  • A bus driver refuses to allow a minority person on the bus.
  • A municipality will not provide accessible parking to residents with disabilities.
  • A school does not provide a wheelchair-accessible entrance to a classroom building.
  • A “private membership” club solicits members from the public but denies admission based on race or religion.

It includes any accommodation, resort, or amusement which is open to, accepts, or solicits the patronage of the public, including but not limited to:

  • Inns, taverns, hotels, or motels.
  • Restaurants, bars, or anywhere alcohol is sold.
  • Drug stores, clinics, or hospitals.
  • Barber shops and beauty parlors, retail stores, banks, theaters, movie theaters, racecourses, skating rinks, swimming pools, concert venues.
  • Amusement and recreation parks, fairs, bowling alleys, gyms, or shooting galleries.
  • Public libraries or schools.
  • Stations, terminals, or airports.
  • All government buildings and properties. 

Contact the PHRC

If you have questions about illegal public accommodation discrimination, contact us.

Call the PHRC


Contact the PHRC regional office closest to you

Call the PHRC regional office closest to you

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