Pennsylvania Application Forms laws & HR compliance analysis

Pennsylvania Application Forms: What you need to know

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act prohibits employers from using application forms that include questions about race, color, religious creed, ancestry, sex, national origin, age, past handicap or disability, or an applicant's use of a guide or support animal, unless the characteristic is a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) (PA Stat. Tit. 43 Sec. 955).
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Employers may not discriminate against an applicant because he or she:
• Has a diploma based on passing a general educational development test rather than a high school diploma
• Is associated with an individual with a disability
• Has opposed any unlawful discriminatory practices or has made a charge, testified, or assisted in any investigation, proceeding, or hearing under the Act.
The Act covers employers with four or more employees, including state and local governments.
Employers may not use an application form that elicits information about an applicant's disability or an applicant's use of a guide or support animal. In addition, prior to an offer of employment, an employer may not inquire as to whether an individual has a disability or inquire about the severity of the disability. However, an employer may inquire as to the applicant's ability to perform the essential functions of the job in question (PA Stat. Tit. 43 Sec. 955).
Under state regulations, a BFOQ must be reasonably necessary to the essence of the normal operation of a particular business. BFOQ exceptions are interpreted narrowly, and the employer has the burden of showing that substantially all of the members of the classification at issue would be unable to safely or effectively perform the essential requirements of the job in question. For example, ...

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