Pennsylvania Workplace Sexual Harassment

If you experienced workplace sexual harassment in Pennsylvania, you may be eligible to file a claim for compensation from your employer for failing to protect you from workplace harassment which is illegal in Pennsylvania. Harassment could include "sexual harassment" or just unwelcome sexual advances, demands for sexual favors, and any other physical or verbal harassment which is sexual in nature. It is also illegal to harass a woman by using offensive comments referring to women in general. Also both the harasser and the victim could be either a man or woman or of the same sex.

What Pennsylvania State Laws Protect Against Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment is considered as a form of sex discrimination that violates federal legislation enshrined in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  It is also covered by the state’s own legislation, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. This state legislation covers all forms of discrimination similar to the federal legislation, including sex discrimination. The state agency that deals with cases of sexual harassment, the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission (PHRC) will investigate cases against employees who work in workplaces with between 4 and 14 employees, while the federal agency only investigates workplaces with more than 14 employees.

What Is Considered Sexual Harassment?

Under both and federal laws, sexual harassment against an employee is considered to be any of the following:

  • written or visual sexual conduct;
  • the use of vulgar, crude and sexist language.
  • making sexual advances;
  • demanding sexual favors;
  • any verbal conduct of a sexual nature;
  • any physical conduct of a sexual nature.

Sexual harassment could be one gender against another or same gender harassment. This means that males may be harassing females, or other males, females harassing females or other females. The fact that it is sexual harassment means that it is the gender identity that is the defining feature.

How Sexual Harassment Is Covered by Law in Pennsylvania?

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act prohibits discrimination and covers complaints of sexual harassment that have taken place in the workplace. You have to file a complaint with the PHRC within 180 days of the alleged act of sexual harassment.

What Employers are Covered by Sexual Harassment Laws?

All employers with 15 or more employees are covered by federal anti-discrimination legislation while employers with fewer employees are covered by state legislation. In reality, because of a work sharing agreement between the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, you can still file a complaint with the PHRC even if you are in a larger workplace.

Where to File a Workplace Sexual Harassment Claim in Pennsylvania?

If you are a victim of sexual harassment in Pennsylvania you can file a claim of harassment through the federal agency which is the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) and the state’s equivalent agency, the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission (PHRC). There are benefits to filing your complaint with the PHRC as there are more offices to contact than there are equivalent EEOC offices.

The following is a list of PHRC offices in Pennsylvania. Note that you should file your complaint with the office in a county where the sexual harassment occurred, not necessarily where you live.

      Harrisburg Regional Office

      Riverfront Office Center

      333 Market 8th floor

      Harrisburg, PA 17101

      Phone: (717) 787-9780

Counties Served: Adams, Bedford, Berks, Blair, Bradford, Cambria, Carbon, Centre, Clinton, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, Mifflin, Monroe, Montour, Northampton, Northumberland, Perry, Pike, Schuylkill, Snyder, Somerset, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, Wayne, Wyoming and York.

      Philadelphia Regional Office

      110 North 8th Street

      Suite 501

      Philadelphia, PA 19107

      Phone: (215) 560-2496

      TTY: (215) 560-3599

Counties Served: Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia.

      Pittsburgh Regional Office

      301 Fifth Avenue

      Suite 390, Piatt Place

      Pittsburgh, PA 15222

      Phone: (412) 565-5395

      TTY: (412) 565-5711

Counties Served: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Fayette, Forest, Greene, Indiana, Jefferson, Lawrence, McKean, Mercer, Potter, Venango, Warren, Washington and Westmoreland.

How Long Do I Have to File a Sexual Harassment Claim in Pennsylvania?           

Under Pennsylvania state law you have 180 days to file a complaint of sexual harassment in the workplace. The federal statute of limitations is 300 days from the alleged case of sexual harassment.

Getting Help Filing a Sexual Harassment Claim in Pennsylvania      

Before filing any Pennsylvania workplace sexual harassment claims you should seek help from a lawyer who will ensure you have the right evidence to support your claim.

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