City of Scranton, PA
Lackawanna County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Scranton 12-8-2003 by Ord. No. 243-2003; amended in its entirety 12-8-2016 by Ord. No. 69-2016. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Boards and commissions — See Ch. 18.
Contracting procedures — See Ch. 41.
Rental property — See Ch. 373.
Rooming houses — see Ch. 375.

§ 296-1 Purpose.

A. 
In order to ensure that all persons regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry or place of birth, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, handicap or disability, use of guide or support animals because of the blindness, deafness or physical handicap of the user or because the user is a handler or trainer of support or guide animals, marital status, familial status (in housing only), or age, enjoy the full benefits of citizenship and are afforded equal opportunities for employment, housing and use of public accommodation facilities, it is necessary that appropriate legislation be enacted.
B. 
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as supporting or advocating any particular doctrine, position, point of view, life style or religious view. To the contrary, it is the intention of this chapter that all persons are treated fairly and equally, and it is the express intent of this chapter to guarantee fair and equal treatment under law to all people of the City.

§ 296-2 Definitions.

The following words, terms and phrases when used in the chapter shall be defined as follows, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
ACCESSIBLE
Being in compliance with the applicable standards set forth in the following: "The Fair Housing Act" (Public Law 90-284 as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3601, et seq.); "Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990" (Public Law 101-336, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101, et seq.); "Act of September 1, 1965 PL. 459, No. 235" as amended; "An Act requiring that certain buildings and facilities adhere to certain principles, standards and specifications to make the same accessible to and useable by persons with physical disabilities and providing for enforcement."
AGE
Includes any person 40 years of age or older and shall also include any other person so protected by further amendment to the Federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act.
A. 
Any building, structure or facility, or portion thereof, which is used, occupied or is intended, arranged, or designed to be used or occupied for the purpose of operating a business, an office, a manufactory or any public accommodation; and
B. 
Any vacant land offered for sale, lease or held for the purpose of constructing or locating thereon any such building, structure, facility, business concern or public accommodation.
COMMISSION
The Human Relations Commission of the City of Scranton.
DISABILITY or HANDICAP
Herein referred to as disability, with respect to a person, means:
A. 
Physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of such person's major life activities;
B. 
Record of such an impairment; or
C. 
Regarded as having such an impairment, but such term does not include current, illegal use or addition to a controlled substance as defined in Section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (Public Law 91-513, 21 U.S.C. § 802).
D. 
For employment, disability means a non-job-related disability which does not substantially interfere with the ability to perform the essential functions of the employment which a person with disability applies for, is engaged in or has been engaged in. Uninsurability or increased cost of insurance under a group or employee insurance plan does not render a disability job related.
DISCRIMINATION
Any exclusion, denial, intimidation, coercion, difference or segregation in treatment in hiring, referring for hiring, promoting, training, in membership in employee or labor organizations, in the advertisement, sale, lease, rental, financing or zoning of housing; or in rendering service in places of a public accommodation because of protected class based upon race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry or place of birth, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, familial status (in housing only) or age or because of the protected class of an individual with whom the person is known to have an association. For the purpose of this chapter, an employer's granting of benefits to married persons, as defined by the law of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which are greater than those benefits granted to nonmarried persons, shall not constitute unlawful discrimination under this act.
EMPLOYEE
Does not include:
A. 
Any individuals who, as part of the employment, reside in the personal residence of the employer; or
B. 
Any individual employed by said individual's parents, spouse or child;
C. 
Those employed by religious, fraternal, charitable or sectarian corporations or associations in the direct provision of services of the organization wherein membership is a bona fide occupational qualification, except such corporations or associations supported, in whole or in part, by government appropriations.
EMPLOYER
Any person who employs four or more employees, exclusive of the parents, spouse or children of such person, including the City of Scranton, its departments, boards, commissions and authorities, any other governmental agency within its jurisdiction, but excluding any religious, fraternal, charitable or sectarian organization which is not supported in whole or in part by any city appropriation.
EMPLOYMENT AGENCY
Includes any person regularly undertaking with or without compensation to procure opportunities to work or to procure, recruit, refer or place employees.
FAIR HOUSING ACT
Public Law 90-284, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.
A. 
One or more individuals who have not attained the age of 18 years being domiciled with:
(1) 
A parent or other person having legal custody of such individual or individuals; or
(2) 
The designee of such parent or other person having said custody, with the written permission of such parent or other person.
B. 
The protections afforded against discrimination on the basis of familial status shall apply to any person who is pregnant or is in the process of securing legal custody of any individual who has not attained the age of 18 years.
GENDER IDENTITY
Self-perception or perception by others, as male or female, including a person's appearance, behavior, or physical characteristics, that may be in accord with, or opposed to, one's physical anatomy, chromosomal sex, or sex assigned at birth.
A. 
Any building, structure, mobile home site or facility, proportion thereof, which is used or occupied or is intended, arranged or designed to be used or occupied as the home residence or sleeping place of one or more individuals, groups or families whether or not living independently of each other; and
B. 
Any vacant land offered for sale, lease or held for the purpose of constructing or locating thereon any such building, structure, mobile home site or facility.
A. 
Housing:
(1) 
Provided under any state or federal program that the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development determines is specifically designed and operated to assist elderly persons as defined in the State or Federal Program; or
(2) 
Is intended for and solely occupied by persons 62 years of age or older; or
(3) 
Is intended and operated for occupancy by at least one person 55 years of age or older per unit.
B. 
In determining whether housing qualified as housing for older persons under this section, the Commission's requirement shall include by not be limited to the following:
(1) 
That at least 80% of the units are occupied by at least one person 55 years of age or older per unit; and
(2) 
The publication of, and adherence to, policies and procedures which demonstrate an intent by the owner or manager to provide housing for persons 55 years of age or older.
C. 
Housing shall not fail to meet the requirements for housing for older persons by reason of unoccupied units provided, that such units are reserved for occupancy by persons who meet the age requirements of this section.
LABOR ORGANIZATION
Any organization which exists for the purpose, in whole or in part, of collective bargaining or dealing with employers concerning grievances, terms or conditions of employment or of other mutual aid or protection in relation to employment.
LENDING INSTITUTION
Any bank, insurance company, savings and loan association or any other person or organization regularly engaged in the business of lending money or guaranteeing loans.
OWNER
Includes lessee, sublessee, assignee, manager, agent, or any other person having the right of ownership or possession or the authority to sell, rent or lease any housing accommodation, including the City and its dependents, authorities, boards and commissions.
PENNSYLVANIA HUMAN RELATIONS ACT
Public Law 744, No. 322 as amended.
PERSON
Includes one or more individuals, partnerships, associations, organizations, corporations, legal representative, trustees in bankruptcy or receivers. It also includes, but is not limited to, any owner, lessor, assignor, builder, manager, broker, salesman, agent, employee, independent contractor, lending institution and all authorities, boards and commissions thereof.
PROTECTED CLASS
Any person legally protected from discrimination based upon race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry or place of birth, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, handicap or disability, use of guide or support animals because of the blindness, deafness or physical handicap of the user or because the user is a handler or trainer of support or guide animals, marital status, familial status (in housing only) or age or because of the protected class of an individual with whom the person is known to have an association.
PUBLIC ACCOMMODATION RESORT or AMUSEMENT
Accepting or soliciting the patronage of the general public or offering goods or services to the general public including loans, or is listed in the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, Section 4(1), but shall not include any personal, professional services which are in their nature distinctly private, personal and confidential.
REAL ESTATE RELATED TRANSACTIONS
Any of the following:
A. 
The making or purchasing of loans or providing other financial assistance:
(1) 
For purchasing, constructing, improving, repairing or maintaining a dwelling, a housing accommodation or commercial property; or
(2) 
Secured by real property including residential real estate.
B. 
The selling, brokering, using as collateral, or appraising of real property including residential real property.
SEX
Male or female, and includes the gender of a person, as perceived, presumed or assumed by others.
SEXUAL ORIENTATION
Male or female homosexuality, heterosexuality and bi-sexuality, by preference, practice or as perceived by others.

§ 296-3 Unlawful employment practices.

It shall be an unlawful employment practice because of protected class or because of the protected class of an individual with whom the person is known to have an association:
A. 
For any employer to refuse to hire or employ or contract with, or to bar or discharge from employment such individual, or to otherwise discriminate against such individual with respect to compensation, hire, tenure, terms, conditions or privileges of employment or contract, if the individual is the best able and most competent to perform the services required.
(1) 
The provision of this subsection shall not apply to: operation of the terms or conditions of any bona fide retirement or pension plan which have the effect of a minimum service requirement, age limitations placed upon entry into bona fide apprenticeship programs of two years or more approved by the State Apprenticeship and Training Council of the Department of Labor and Industry. Notwithstanding any provision of this section, it shall not be an unlawful employment practice for a religious corporation or association to hire or employ on the basis of sex in those certain instances where sex is a bona fide occupational qualification because of the religious beliefs, practices, or observances of the corporation, or association.
B. 
For any employer, employment agency, or labor organization, prior to the employment to:
(1) 
Elicit any information or make or keep a record of or use any form of application or application blank containing questions or entries concerning the protected class of any applicant for employment or membership. Prior to an offer of employment, an employer may not inquire as to whether an individual has a disability or as to the severity of such disability. An employer may inquire as to the individual's ability to perform the essential functions of the employment.
(2) 
Print or publish or cause to be printed or published any notice or advertisement relating to employment indicating any preference, limitation, specification or discrimination based upon protected class.
(3) 
Deny or limit, through a quota system, employment or membership because of protected class.
(4) 
Substantially confine or limit recruitment or hiring of individuals, with intent to circumvent the spirit and purpose of this act, to any employment agency, employment service, labor organization, training school or center, or any other employee-referring source which services individuals who are predominantly of the same protected class.
(5) 
Deny employment because of a prior disability.
(6) 
To exclude or otherwise deny equal jobs or benefits to a person because of the protected class of an individual with whom the person is known to have a relationship or association.
(7) 
For any labor organization because of protected class to deny full and equal membership rights to any individual or otherwise to discriminate against such individuals with respect to hire, tenure, terms, conditions or privileges of employment or any other matter, directly or indirectly, related to employment.
(8) 
For any person, employer, employment agency, or labor organization to discriminate in any manner against any individual because such individual has opposed any practice forbidden by this act, or because such individual has made a charge, testified or assisted, in any manner, in any investigation, proceeding or hearing under this act, or to aide, abet, incite, compel or coerce the doing of any act declared by this section be an unlawful discriminatory practice, or to obstruct or prevent any person from complying with the provisions of this act or any order issued thereunder, or to attempt, directly or indirectly, to commit any act declared by this section to be an unlawful discriminatory practice.
(9) 
For any employment agency to fail or refuse to classify properly, refer for employment or otherwise to discriminate against any individual because of protected class. However, this section shall not be construed to prohibit the refusal to hire or the dismissal of a person who is not able to function properly in the job applied for or engaged in.
C. 
Nothing in this section shall bar any institution or organization for persons with disabilities from limiting or giving preference in employment or membership to handicapped or disabled persons.

§ 296-4 Unlawful housing practices.

A. 
Discrimination in the sale or rental of housing or other prohibited practices. It shall be unlawful housing practice because of the protected class of an individual with whom the person is known to have an association, to:
(1) 
Refuse to sell, lease, finance, rent after making a bona fide offer, or to refuse to negotiate for the sale or rental of, or otherwise make unavailable or deny a dwelling to any person, or otherwise to deny or withhold any housing accommodation or commercial property from any person, prospective owner, occupant or user of such housing accommodation or commercial property.
(2) 
Evict or attempt to evict an occupant of any housing accommodation before the end of the term of the lease because of pregnancy or the birth of a child.
(3) 
Refuse to lend money, whether or not secured by a mortgage or otherwise, for the acquisition, construction, rehabilitation, repair or maintenance of any housing accommodation or commercial property or otherwise withhold financing of any housing accommodation or commercial property from any person because of protected class.
(4) 
Discriminate against any person in the terms or conditions of selling or leasing any housing accommodation or commercial property or in furnishing facilities, services or privileges in connection with the ownership, occupancy or use of any housing accommodation or commercial property because of protected class.
(5) 
Represent to any person that any dwelling is not available for inspection, sale or rental when such dwelling is in fact so available.
(6) 
For the purpose of this section, discrimination includes:
(a) 
Refusal to permit, at the expense of a person with a disability, reasonable modifications of existing premises occupied or to be occupied by such person if such modification may be necessary to afford such person full enjoyment of the premises, except that, in the case of a rental, the landlord may, where it is reasonable to do so, grant permission for a modification if the renter agrees to restore the interior of the premises to the condition that existed before the modification, with reasonable wear and tear excepted.
(b) 
Refusal to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices or services when such accommodations may be necessary to afford such person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.
(c) 
In connection with the design and construction of covered multifamily dwellings for first occupancy after the date that is 30 months after the date of enactment of the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (enacted September 13, 1988), a failure to design and construct those dwellings in such a manner that:
[1] 
The public use and common use portions of such dwellings are readily accessible to and usable by handicapped persons;
[2] 
All the doors designed to allow passage into and within all premises within such dwellings are sufficiently wide to allow passage by handicapped persons in wheelchairs; and
[3] 
All premises within such dwellings contain the following features of adaptive design:
[a] 
An accessible route into and through the dwelling;
[b] 
Light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats, and other environmental controls in accessible locations;
[c] 
Reinforcements in bathroom walls to allow later installation of grab bars; and
[d] 
Usable kitchens and bathrooms such that an individual in a wheel chair can maneuver about the space.
(7) 
Discriminate against any person in the terms or conditions of any loan of money, whether or not secured by a mortgage or otherwise for the acquisition, construction, rehabilitation, repair or maintenance of housing accommodation or commercial property because of protected class.
(8) 
Make, print, publish, circulate or cause to be made, printed, published or circulated any statement or advertisement: relating to the sale, lease or acquisition of any housing accommodation or commercial property or the loan of money, whether or not secured by mortgage or otherwise for the acquisition, construction, rehabilitation, repair or maintenance of any housing accommodation or commercial property which indicates any preference, limitation, specification, or discrimination based upon protected class or an intention to make any such preference, limitation, specification, or discrimination.
(9) 
Make any inquiry, elicit any information, make or keep any record or use any form of application, containing questions or entries concerning protected class in connection with the sale or lease of any housing accommodation or commercial property or loan of any money whether or not secured by mortgage or otherwise for the acquisition, construction, rehabilitation, repair or maintenance of any housing combination or commercial property, except for the collection of such information when such collection is authorized by federal, state, or local law, or by the terms of a judicial decree or settlement; or in any other case giving rise to a duty to collect such information.
(10) 
For profit, to induce or attempt to induce any person to sell or rent any dwelling by representations regarding the entry or prospective entry into the neighborhood of a person or persons of a particular race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.

§ 296-5 Unlawful real estate practices.

It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice because of the Protected Class or because of the protected class of an individual with whom the person is known to have an association, to:
A. 
Deny any person access to membership or participation in any multiple-listing service, real estate broker's organization or other service, organization, or facility relating to the business of selling or renting dwellings or commercial property, or to discriminate against them in the terms or conditions of such access, membership or participation.
B. 
For any person or other entity whose business includes engaging in real estate-related transactions to discriminate against any person in making available such transaction, or in the terms or conditions of such transaction.
C. 
Induce, solicit or attempt to induce or solicit for commercial profit any listing, sale or transaction involving any housing accommodation or commercial property by representing that such housing accommodation or commercial property is within any neighborhood, community or area adjacent to any other area in which they reside, or do not reside, persons of any particular protected class.
D. 
Discourage, or attempt to discourage, the purchase or lease of any housing accommodation or commercial property by representing that such housing accommodation or commercial property is within any neighborhood, community or area adjacent to any other area in which there reside, or may in the future reside in increased or decreased numbers, persons of any protected class.
E. 
Misrepresent, steer, create or distort a circumstance, condition or incident for the purpose of fostering the impression or belief, on the part of any owner, occupant or prospective owner or occupant of any housing accommodation or commercial property that it is within any neighborhood, community or area adjacent to any other area which would be adversely impacted by the residence, or future increased or decreased residence, of persons of any protected class.
F. 
In any way misrepresent or otherwise mis-advertise within a neighborhood or community, whether or not in writing, that any housing accommodation or commercial property within such a neighborhood or community is available for inspection, sale, lease, sublease or other transfer, in any context where such misrepresentation or mis-advertising would have the effect of fostering an impression or belief that there has been or will be an increase in real estate activity within such neighborhood or community due to the residence, or anticipated increased or decreased residence, of persons of any protected class.
G. 
For any person to harass, threaten, intimidate, harm, damage or otherwise penalize any person, group or business because he or they exercised or encouraged others to exercise their rights under this chapter; or because he or they have complied with the provisions of this chapter, or enjoyed the benefits of this chapter, or because he or they have made a charge, testified or assisted in any manner in any investigation, proceeding or hearing hereunder.
H. 
For any person to aide, abet, incite, induce, compel or coerce the doing of an unlawful practice promoted by this chapter or to obstruct or prevent any person from complying with the provisions of this chapter or any order issued hereunder.
I. 
For any person who with intent to mislead in any proceeding under this chapter to destroy or mutilate, falsify, alter or refuse to supply records and documents produced pursuant to subpoena or other lawful order under this Section.
J. 
Inapplicability of prohibitions.
(1) 
Nothing in this chapter prohibits a person engaged in the business of furnishing appraisals of property to take into consideration factors of race, color, religious creed, ancestry, national origin, marital status, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, handicap or disability, or familial status.
(2) 
Nothing in this chapter, regarding age or familial status, shall apply with respect to housing for older persons.
(3) 
Nothing in this chapter shall prohibit a religious organization, association, or society or any non-profit institution or organization operated, supervised or controlled by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association or society, from limiting the sale, rental or occupancy of dwellings which it owns, operates for other than a commercial purpose to persons of the same religion, or from giving preference to such persons, unless membership in such religion is restricted on account of race, color or national origin.
(4) 
Nothing in this chapter shall prohibit a private club not in fact open to the public, which as an incident to its primary purpose or purposes provide lodgings which it owns or operates for other than a commercial purpose, from limiting the rental or occupancy of such lodging to its members or from giving preference to its members.
(5) 
Nothing in this chapter shall apply with respect to discrimination based on sex in the rental or leasing of housing accommodation in a single-sex dormitory.
(6) 
Exemption. Nothing in § 296-5A, D, E and F or § 296-6 of this chapter shall apply to:
(a) 
Any single-family housing sold or rented by an owner; provided, that such private individual owner does not own more than three such single-family houses at anyone time; provided further, that in the case of the sale of any such single-family house by a private individual owner not residing in such house at the time of such sale or who was not the most recent resident of such house prior to the sale, the exemption granted by this subsection shall apply only with respect to one such sale within any twenty-four-month period; provided further, that such bona fide private individual owner does not own any interest in, nor is there owned or reserved on his behalf, under any express or voluntary agreement, title to or any right to all or a portion of the proceeds from the sale or rental of, more than three such single-family houses at anyone time; provided further, that after December 31, 1969, the sale or rental of such single-family houses shall be excepted from the application of this title only if such house is sold or rented without the use in any manner of the sales or rental facilities or the sales or rental services of any person in the business of selling or renting dwellings, or of any employee or agent of any such broker, agent, salesman, or person and without the publication, posting or mailing, after notice, of any advertisement or written notice in violation of section 804(c) of this title (42 U.S.C. § 3604 (c)); but nothing in this provision shall prohibit the use of attorneys, escrow agents, abstractors, title companies, and other such professional assistance as necessary to perfect or transfer the title, or
(b) 
Rooms or units in dwellings containing living quarters occupied or intended to be occupied by no more than four families living independently of each other, if the owner actually maintains and occupies one of such living quarters as his residence.

§ 296-6 Unlawful public accommodation practices.

It shall be an unlawful public accommodation practice for any person being the owner, lessee, proprietor, manager, superintendent, agent or employee of any establishment offering public accommodation, resort or amusement because of protected class or because of the protected class of an individual with whom the person is known to have an association, to:
A. 
Refuse, withhold from or deny to any person because of protected class, either directly or indirectly, any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, services or privileges of such place of public accommodation, resort or amusement.
B. 
Publish, circulate, issue, display, post or mail, either directly or indirectly, any written or printed communication, notice or advertisement to the effect that any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of any such place shall be refused, withheld or denied to any person on account of protected class, objectionable or not acceptable, desired or solicited.
C. 
Obstruct any person from enjoyment of his rights under this chapter relating to public accommodations.

§ 296-7 Human Relations Commission.

A. 
Establishment. There is hereby established the Human Relations Commission of the City of Scranton comprised of 11 members, who shall by first choice be residents of the City, appointed by the Mayor with, the advice and consent of City Council, and who shall serve without compensation. In the event the requirements of the position and/or availability of volunteers cannot be met by a resident of the City, then the members need not be residents of the City of Scranton, but must be either a City of Scranton taxpayer, maintain a business in the City, be employed in the City and/or attend school in the City of Scranton. All members shall be 18 years or older and shall serve overlapping terms of three years each.
B. 
Powers and duties. The Commission is hereby vested with the authority to administer and enforce this chapter and shall be given sufficient administrative and legal support from the City staff persons to carry out the following powers and duties:
(1) 
To meet and function at any place within the City;
(2) 
To adopt, promulgate, amend and rescind rules and regulations to effect the policies and provisions of this chapter, and to make recommendations to agencies of the City of Scranton and the City Council thereof to effect such policies;
(3) 
To initiate, receive, investigate and pass upon complaints charging unlawful discriminatory practices in violation of § 296-3, 296-4, 296-5, and 296-6, taking place within the city limits of Scranton.
(4) 
To study the problems of discrimination and foster, through community effort or otherwise, good will among the groups and elements of the population of the City;
(5) 
To issue such publications and such results of investigations, providing an investigation results in a public hearing and to research as, in its judgment, will tend to promote good will and minimize or eliminate discrimination.
(6) 
From time to time, but not less than once a year, to report to the Mayor or his designee, and the City Council of the City of Scranton describing in detail the investigations, proceedings, hearings and studies it has conducted and their outcome, the decisions it has rendered and the other work performed by it, and make recommendations for such further legislation concerning abuses and discrimination.
C. 
Administrative support. The City of Scranton from time to time shall designate an individual City employee or department to provide administrative support services to the Commission.
D. 
Procedure.
(1) 
Filing a complaint.
(a) 
Any individual claiming to be aggrieved by an unlawful discriminatory practice, and any person who believes that such person will be injured by a discriminatory housing practice that is about to occur, may make, sign and file with the Commission a verified complaint in writing which shall state the name and address of the person or persons alleged to have committed the unlawful practice and the particulars thereof. The complaint shall also contain such other information as may be required by the Commission. The Commission, upon its own initiative, may in like manner sign and file a complaint. The person or entity filing said complaint shall have the power reasonably and fairly to amend their/its complaint.
(b) 
Upon the filing of such complaint and an initial finding of probable cause as to jurisdiction over the respondent and protected class of the complainant, the Commission shall send the complaint along with notice, upon the aggrieved person acknowledging such filing and advising the aggrieved person of the time limits and choice of forums provided under this chapter.
(c) 
The Commission shall serve a copy of the complaint to the named respondent within 30 days from the date of filing the complaint. Administrative support personnel shall, no later than 30 days after such filing of the complaint, advise such respondent of the procedural rights and obligations of respondent under this chapter, together with a copy of the original complaint.
(d) 
Upon receipt of a complaint from a City employee or any citizen against the City of Scranton, the Commission may, independent of the City and City staff, retain outside legal counsel to advise on legal matters for such complaint on behalf of the Commission. Upon disposition of the complaint, the City, after consultation between the Mayor or his/her designee, and legal counsel, shall pay a reasonable fee to such legal counsel. Neither City staff members nor City legal counsel may represent the complainant in any such case.
(e) 
Time period for filing complaint. Any complaint filed pursuant to this section must be so filed within 180 days after the alleged act of discrimination, unless otherwise required by the Fair Housing Act.
(f) 
Withdrawing complaint. Any complaint may be withdrawn at any time by the party filing the complaint.
(2) 
Investigation.
(a) 
Prior to the filing of a complaint, an initial probable cause determination will be made regarding jurisdiction over the respondent and protected class status of the complaint. After the filing of any complaint, the Commission shall assign an investigation committee, comprised of members of the commission, for the purpose of investigating the substance of the alleged discriminatory action. The members of the investigating committee shall not serve on the hearing panel regarding the same matter. The investigating committee will issue a case management order to the parties of the matter establishing relevant discovery deadlines and timeframes. In the conduct of such investigation, the Commission may issue subpoenas to any person charged with or associated with an unlawful practice to furnish information, records of the documents. The Commission may seek enforcement of its subpoena by petition to the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County.
(b) 
When a complaint is filed alleging a discriminatory housing practice, the Commission shall make an investigation of the alleged discriminatory housing practice and complete such investigation within 100 days after the filing of the complaint, unless it is impracticable to do so. If the commission is unable to complete the investigation within 100 days after the filing of the complaint, the Commission shall notify the complainant and respondent, in writing, of the reasons for not doing so.
(c) 
A respondent shall file a written, verified answer to the complaint within 30 days of service of the complaint, except in the case of a Fair Housing complaint of discrimination, in which case a respondent shall file, not later than 10 days after receipt of notice from the Commission, an answer to such complaint. The Commission, upon request of the respondent, may grant an extension of time to file an answer, except for a Fair Housing where not more than 30 additional days may be granted unless otherwise required by the Fair Housing Act.
(d) 
Complaints and answers shall be verified and may be reasonably and fairly amended at any time prior to establishment of a hearing. A party must request leave of the commission to amend after a hearing has been scheduled, leave shall not be unreasonably withheld.
(e) 
The Commission shall send notice of the right to file a lawsuit to the complainant one year after the date the complaint is filed.
(f) 
After service of the complaint, the Commission shall encourage voluntary and informed predetermination settlements between parties.
(3) 
Allegation and notice. If after such investigation, it is determined that there is no basis for the allegations of the complaint, the Commission shall, within 10 days from such determination, cause to be issued and served upon the complainant, written notice of such determination. The notice shall also state that the complaint will be dismissed unless within 10 days after such service the complainant or his/her attorney file with the Commission a request for reconsideration. The Complainant or his/her attorney shall state in the request the basis for reconsideration and provide any new or additional evidence in support thereof. The Commission shall, upon request for such reconsideration, review the request and consider such additional new evidence, if any, and may provide an opportunity to appear before the investigating committee at a preliminary hearing, to argue such additional information as may be available to support the allegations of the complaint.
(4) 
Conciliation. During the period beginning with the filing of such complaint, the Commission shall, to the extent feasible, engage in conciliation with respect to such complaint. A conciliation agreement arising out of such conciliation shall be an agreement between the respondent and the complainant, and shall be subject to approval by the Commission. Each conciliation agreement shall be made public unless the complainant and respondent otherwise agree and the Commission determines that disclosure is not required to further the purposes of this chapter.
(5) 
Establishment of hearing.
(a) 
If the Commission, in its discretion, finds it is not possible to eliminate such unlawful practices by persuasion, the Commission shall cause to be issued and served, a written notice, together with a copy of such complaint as the same may have been amended, requiring the party named in such complaint, hereinafter referred to as respondent, to answer the charges of such complaint at a hearing before the Commission at a time and place to be specified in such notice. The Commission shall appoint a hearing panel compromised of Commission members not serving on the investigating committee for the instant matter.
(b) 
When notice of a hearing is given as set forth in Subsection D(3)(a) and an election procedure is required by the Fair Housing Act, either party may elect, as an alternative to public hearing before the Commission, to have the claims asserted in the complaint decided in a civil action brought under the original jurisdiction of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas. The Commission shall send written notice to all parties and inform them of their right to take civil action. An election must be made within 20 days after service of the notice of a hearing. A party making this election shall notify the Commission and all other parties. The complainant has the right to intervene as a party in state court pursuant to such an election. If an election for civil action is made by either party, the Commission shall, within 30 days from the date of election, commence and maintain a civil action on behalf of the complainant.
(c) 
In any action brought under this subsection, the Commission recommends that:
[1] 
All filing fees shall be waived for the Commission and all parties, including the action brought under the Court of Common Pleas original jurisdiction and any appeal arising out of such action.
[2] 
If, after a trial, the Court of Common Pleas finds that a respondent engaged in or is engaging in any unlawful discriminatory practice as defined in this chapter, the Court may award attorneys' fees and costs to the complainant on whose behalf the action was commenced.
[3] 
If, after a trial, the Court of Common Pleas finds that a respondent has not engaged in or is not engaging in any unlawful discriminatory practice as defined in this chapter, the Court may award attorneys' fees and costs to the prevailing respondent if the respondent proves that the complaint upon which the civil action was based was brought in bad faith.
[4] 
If, after a trial, the Court of Common Pleas finds that a respondent has not engaged in any unlawful discriminatory practice as defined in this act, the Court may award attorneys' fees and costs to the prevailing respondent if the Court determines that the complaint is frivolous and that the Commission dealt with the party complained against in a willful, wanton and oppressive manner, in which case the Commission shall be ordered to pay such costs and attorneys' fees.
(6) 
Hearing.
(a) 
The case in support of the complaint shall be presented to the hearing panel designated by the Commission, and comprised of commissioners having not served on the investigating committee regarding the complaint for the purpose of hearing said complaint by complainant's attorney or agents.
(b) 
The respondent may appear at such hearing in person or otherwise, with or without counsel, and submit testimony. The complainant may likewise appear at such hearing in person or otherwise, with or without counsel, and submit testimony. At a hearing under this section, each party may present witnesses and engage in cross-examination, and obtain the issuance of subpoenas in accordance with the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure and local rules of court. The Commission may issue subpoenas in aid of investigations and hearings under this chapter. Such subpoenas may be ordered to the same extent and subject to the same limitations as would apply if the subpoenas were ordered or served in aid of a civil action in the Court of Common Pleas of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for the jurisdiction in which the investigation is taking place. Any aggrieved person may intervene as a party in the proceeding. The Commission or the complainant shall have the power reasonably and fairly to amend any complaint and the respondent shall have like power to amend his answer. The Pennsylvania Rules of Evidence will act to guide the presentation of evidence in such hearing but will not be strictly adhered to with the hearing being an administrative proceeding. The testimony taken at the hearing shall be under oath and be transcribed.
(7) 
Findings.
(a) 
If, upon all the evidence at the hearing, the Commission finds that a respondent has engaged in any unlawful discriminatory practice as defined in this chapter, the Commission shall state its findings of fact, and shall issue and cause to be served on such respondent a finding requiring such respondent to cease and desist from such unlawful discriminatory practice and to take such affirmative action. This affirmative action includes, but is not limited to, reimbursement of certifiable travel expenses in matters involving the complaint; compensation for loss of time from work in matters involving the complaint; hiring, reinstatement and/or upgrading of employees, with or without back pay; admission or restoration to membership in any respondent labor organization; the making of reasonable accommodations; selling or leasing of specified housing accommodations or commercial property upon such equal terms and conditions and such equal facilities, services and privileges; the lending of money, whether or not secured by mortgage or otherwise, for the acquisition, construction, rehabilitation, repair or maintenance of housing accommodations or commercial property; upon such equal terms and conditions to any person discriminated against or all persons; any other verifiable, reasonable out-of-pocket expenses caused by unlawful discriminatory practice; and any and all other compensation as provided under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.
(b) 
In those cases alleging a violation of §§ 296-4, 296-5, 296-6, and violations of the Fair Housing Act, the Commission may award actual damages including damages caused by humiliation and embarrassment as, in the judgment of the Commission, to effectuate the purposes of this chapter, including a requirement for report of the manner of compliance.
[1] 
The Commission may also assess a civil penalty against the respondent in a complaint of discrimination filed under § 296-4, § 296-5, § 296-6, and violations of the Fair Housing Act of this Act;
[a] 
In an amount not exceeding $10,000, if the respondent has not been adjudged to have committed any prior discriminatory practice;
[b] 
In an amount not exceeding $25,000, if the respondent has been adjudged to have committed one other discriminatory practice during the five-year period ending on the date of the order; or
[c] 
In an amount not exceeding $50,000, if the respondent has been adjudged to have committed more than one other discriminatory practice during the seven year period ending on the date of the order.
(c) 
If the Commission finds that the respondent has engaged in or is engaging in an unlawful discriminatory practice charged in the complaint, the Commission shall enjoin the respondent from engaging in such unlawful discriminatory practice and order affirmative action which may include, but is not limited to, reinstatement or hiring of employees, granting of back pay, or any other legal or equitable relief as the court deems appropriate. Back pay liability shall not accrue from a date more than three years prior to the filing of a complaint charging violations of this chapter.
(d) 
If upon all the evidence at the hearing, in those cases alleging a violation of § 296-4, § 296-5, § 296-6, the Commission finds that a respondent has engaged in or is engaging in any unlawful discriminatory practice, as defined in this chapter, the Commission may award attorneys' fees and costs to prevailing complainants.
(e) 
If upon all the evidence at the hearing, in those cases alleging a violation of § 296-4, § 296-5, § 296-6, the Commission finds that a respondent has not engaged in or is not engaging in any unlawful discriminatory practice as defined in this chapter, the Commission may award attorneys' fees and costs to a prevailing respondent if the respondent proves that the complaint was brought in bad faith.
(f) 
The remedies and damages announced above shall also be available to a prevailing party, other than the United States, as the Commission, in its discretion, may allow.
(8) 
Commonwealth license. When the respondent is a licensee of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Commission shall inform the appropriate State's licensing authority of the order with the request that the licensing-authority take such action as it deems appropriate against such licensee.
(9) 
Complaint dismissal.
(a) 
If, upon all the evidence, the Commission shall find that a respondent has not engaged in any such unlawful discriminatory practice, the Commission shall state its findings of fact, and shall issue and cause to be served on the complainant an order dismissing said complaint as to such respondent.
(b) 
In the case of an alleged violation under § 296-4 and § 296-5, if upon all the evidence, the Commission shall find that a respondent has not engaged in or is not about to engage in a discriminatory housing practice, the Commission shall state its findings of fact, and shall issue and cause to be served on the complainant an order dismissing the said complaint as to such respondent.
(10) 
Rules and records of hearing. The Commission shall establish rules of practice to govern, expedite and effectuate the foregoing procedure and its own actions thereunder. A hearing panel three or more commissioners designated by the Commission shall constitute the Commission for any hearing required to be held by the Commission under this chapter. The recommended findings, conclusions and order made by said members shall be final and subject to judicial review. The recommended findings, conclusions and order made by said hearing panel shall become a part of the permanent record of the proceeding and shall accompany any order served upon the parties to the complaint.
(11) 
Enforcement, judicial review and penalty.
(a) 
Injunction. If the Commission concludes, at any time following the filing of a complaint under this chapter that prompt judicial action is necessary to prevent immediate and irreparable harm, the Commission may commence an action in the Court of Common Pleas, and that Court may grant an appropriate preliminary or special injunction pending final disposition of the complaint. Any such order relief shall be granted in accordance with the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure Section 1531.
(b) 
Enforcement. The complainant or the Commission may secure enforcement of the order of the Commission or other appropriate relief. When the Commission has heard and decided any complaint brought before it, enforcement of its order shall be initiated by the filing of a petition in court, together with a transcript of the record of the hearing before the Commission, and issuance and service of a copy of said petition as in proceedings in equity. The Commission's copy of the testimony shall be available at all reasonable times to all parties for examination without cost, and for the purpose of enforcement or judicial review of the order. Any failure to obey an order of the Court may be punishable by such Court as contempt thereof.
(c) 
Enforcement by private person.
[1] 
In cases involving a claim of discrimination, except for claims alleging discriminatory housing practices, if a complainant invokes the procedures set forth in this act, that individual's right of action in the courts of the Commonwealth shall not be foreclosed. If within one year after the filing of the complaint with the Commission, the Commission dismisses the complaint, or for whatever reason closes the complainant's case, or has not entered into a conciliation agreement to which the complainant is a party, the Commission must so notify the complainant. On receipt of such a notice, the complainant shall be able to bring an action in the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County based on the right to freedom from discrimination granted by this chapter. A person claiming to be aggrieved by a discriminatory housing practice, may commence a civil action whether or not a complaint has been filed under this section and without regard to the status of any such complaint, but if the Commission has obtained a conciliation agreement with the consent of an aggrieved person, no action may be filed under this chapter by such aggrieved person with respect to the alleged discriminatory housing practice which forms the basis for such complaint, except for the purpose of enforcing the terms of such an agreement. A person alleged to be aggrieved by a discriminatory housing practice may not commence a civil action under this chapter with respect to an alleged discriminatory housing practice which forms the basis of a charge issued by the Commission, if the Commission or an administrative law judge assigned by the Commission has commenced a hearing on the record under this chapter with respect to such charge.
[2] 
An action under this subsection shall be filed within two years of the date of the last alleged discriminatory act. Computation of such two-year period shall not include any time during which an administrative proceeding under this chapter was pending with respect to a complaint under this chapter based upon such discriminatory housing practice.
[3] 
If the Court finds that the respondent has engaged in or is engaging in an unlawful discriminatory practice charged in the complaint, the Court shall enjoin the respondent from engaging in such unlawful discriminatory practice and order affirmative action which may include, but is not limited to, reinstatement or hiring of employees, granting of back pay, or any other legal or equitable relief as the Court deems appropriate. Back-pay liability shall not accrue from a date more than three years prior to the filing of the complaint charging violations of the chapter.
[4] 
The Court shall serve upon the Commission any final order issued in any action brought under this subsection.
[5] 
Findings after trial.
[a] 
If, after a trial, held pursuant to Subsection D(11)(c), the Court of Common Pleas finds that a defendant engaged in or is engaging in any unlawful discriminatory practices defined in this chapter, the Court may award attorneys' fees and costs as provided under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act to the prevailing plaintiff.
[b] 
If, after a trial held pursuant to Subsection D(11)(c), the Court of Common Pleas finds that a defendant has not engaged in or is not engaging in any unlawful discriminatory practice as defined in this act, the court may award attorneys' fees and costs to the prevailing defendant if the defendant proves that the complaint was brought in bad faith, except in the case of complaints brought under § 296-4, Unlawful housing practices. For claims raised under the Fair Housing Act, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is responsible for attorneys' fees to prevailing respondents within the framework of the Equal Access to Justice Act.
(d) 
Penalties. Any person who shall willfully resist, prevent, impede or interfere with the Commission, its members, agents or agencies, in the performance of duties pursuant to this chapter, or shall willfully violate an order of the Commission, shall be guilty of misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not more than $600, or to undergo imprisonment not exceeding 30 days, or both, in the discretion of the court, but procedure for the review of an order shall not be deemed to be such willful conduct. The provisions of this chapter shall be construed liberally for the accomplishment of the purposes thereof, and any law inconsistent with any provisions hereof shall not apply.
(12) 
Except as otherwise provided, any order of the Commission may be subject to judicial review under provisions appearing in 2 P.S §§ 751 through 764.
(13) 
Where a provision of this chapter is found to be in conflict with the provision of any other ordinance of the City, or in any regulation issued under the authority of such Ordinance, the provisions which establish the higher standard for the protection of the health, safety and welfare shall prevail.