Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission

File a Public Accommodation Discrimination Complaint

If you feel you have experienced illegal public accommodation discrimination- the inability to access public places- you can download the Public Accommodation Intake Questionnaire and email or mail it to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC). 

What is illegal 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. If you feel you have been discriminated against, in general, you have 180 days to file from when the alleged discrimination happened.

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.

When filing a discrimination complaint:

  • Language translation and services for visual and hearing disabilities are available upon request if you need help with filing a complaint.
  • You must be a victim or have the legal authority to act on behalf of a victim.
  • Save any evidence you may have to support your complaint (e.g., text messages, pictures, etc.)
  • You have the right to obtain private legal services at your own expense, but this is not required.

Learn more about the complaint process.

Interested in providing training on public accommodation to your organization or group?

The PHRC offers a variety of public accommodation discrimination training, including programs about disability and reasonable accommodation, intersectionality of discrimination and trauma, and more. We tailor our trainings to the specific needs of your organization or community.   

File a complaint

If you feel you have experienced illegal public accommodation discrimination, fill out the intake questionnaire and email or mail it to the PHRC.

Email the PHRC

Email your completed public accommodation intake questionnaire to the PHRC.

Find your regional office

Mail your completed public accommodation intake questionnaire to the PHRC regional office closest to you.

Find your regional office

Frequently Asked Questions

A PHRC staff member is available to help you:

  • Decide whether you would like to file a complaint.
  • Draft the complaint and prepare it in legal form for your verified signature.

  • The complaint will be:
    • Assigned a docket number.
    • Served to the respondent (the person you have named in your complaint as responsible for the alleged discrimination) within 30 days of the date of docketing.
  • The respondent is required to:
    • Answer your complaint within 30 days of the date it was served unless an extension of 30 days is approved in writing by the PHRC.
    • Provide you with a copy of its answer.


Retaliation is when someone is discriminated against because they:

  • Opposed any practice forbidden by the PHRA or PFEOA.
  • Made a charge, testified, or assisted in an investigation, proceeding or hearing.

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.
  • Pharmacies, 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. 

  • 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.

If your complaint is disability-related, you must also complete and submit the Disability Information Release for Public Accommodations [PDF] form to the PHRC.

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

Contact the PHRC regional office closest to you

Fill out a contact us form

Fill out a contact us form