Thousands of Complaints, Long Waits, Few Answers: What Is Happening at Pennsylvania's Human Relations Commission?

An NBC10 Investigators inquiry found a very small number of civil rights complaints to the state Human Relations Commission resulted in found claims of harassment.

What to Know

  • The average wait for resolution to a claim to the state Human Relations Commission is 500 days.
  • In 2017, the commission received 3,200 claims.
  • Of those, investigators ruled harassment was involved in 60.

When someone files a complaint with the state commission tasked with investigating civil rights and harassment issues, resolution can take a long time — a very long time.

The average time it takes for the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission to close a case is 500 days, according to a commission spokeswoman.

The commission, which according to one former staff attorney had a budget of almost $11 million in 2014, no longer posts annual complaint totals and resolutions on its website. It stopped that accountability practice in 2013. 

But a spokeswoman said the number of complaints in 2017 was 3,200, which is in line with the numbers that were posted publicly between 2010 and 2013.

Of those 3,200, investigators found harassment in 60 cases.

The lawyer, Ryan Hancock, said the commission's staffing levels have dwindled while the case workload has remained the same.

"We have thousands and thousands of complaints. Funding has historically gone down which means you have less and less people with the same amount of complaints," Hancock told NBC10 Investigators in an interview. "That’s just a recipe for disaster."

When asked whether the commission's current funding is adequate for the amount of cases, a spokeswoman for the commission said, "I think every state agency would like to have more resources."

Gov. Tom Wolf's spokesman said the current administration hopes to increase the commission's budget by 15 percent in the 2018-2019 budget that is supposed to begin July 1.

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