The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religious creed, ancestry, national origin, sex, age (40 and over), or disability (includes the use of a guide dog or other service animal), or unless the protected characteristic constitutes a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ), i.e., is necessary in order to perform the job in question. In addition, employers are prohibited from printing or publishing any job notice or advertisement indicating a discriminatory preference, limitation, or specification, unless the preference, limitation, or specification is a BFOQ. The Act applies to all public employers and private employers with four or more employees (PA Stat. Tit. 43 Sec. 951 et seq.).
BFOQ exception. According to regulations issued by the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, a BFOQ exception is permissible only when an employer can prove that all or substantially all members of a protected class are unable to safely and efficiently perform the job in question. Employers should be cautious when relying on a BFOQ to make an employment decision that might be viewed as discriminatory. If an employer is in doubt as to whether an otherwise protected characteristic may constitute a BFOQ, a ruling from the Commission may be obtained on request (PA Admin. Code Tit. 16 Sec. 41.71et seq.).