Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.
Author: Christin Choi, Fisher Phillips
- The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) prohibits recruiting practices that are based on several protected characteristics including race, color, religion, sex and others. See Discriminatory Recruiting Practices.
- In advertising for potential employment candidates, employers and employment agencies may not print or publish any advertisement that indicates any preference, limitation, specification or discrimination based upon any protected category. See Job Advertisements and Notices.
- Pennsylvania employers may not deny or limit employment through a quota system, and limit recruiting or hiring individuals from any employment agency that predominantly services individuals in the same protected category. See Quota System.
- Private employers may adopt a veterans preference policy in employment provided it is in writing and is included in any job posting. See Veterans Preference.
Discriminatory Recruiting Practices
The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) prohibits discrimination against any employee, independent contractor or job applicant on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, age (40 years or older), sex, national origin, non-job related handicap or disability, the use of guide or support animals because of blindness, deafness, or physical handicap of the applicant, or because the applicant is a handler or trainer of support or guide animals. +43 P.S. § 951.
The PHRA covers employers with four or more employees, as well as employment agencies and labor unions. Employment agencies include any person who regularly procures opportunities to work or to find, recruit, refer or place employees. +43 P.S. § 954.
Job Advertisements and Notices
In recruiting potential employment candidates, employers and employment agencies may not print or publish any notice or job advertisement that indicates any preference, limitation, specification or discrimination based upon any protected category. +43 P.S. § 955(b); +16 Pa. Code § 41.72.
For advertising purposes only, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission may grant, upon request by an employer, employment agency or labor organization, a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) interpretation to a particular employment notice or advertisement. A BFOQ interpretation means the commission will review the request to authorize an otherwise discriminatory employment qualification or requirement. The interpretation applies only to the particular notice or advertisement at issue, and may not be considered otherwise applicable to an employer, employment agency or union's recruiting or hiring practices. +43 P.S. § 955(b); +16 Pa. Code § 41.72(b).
Prior to employment, employers, employment agencies and labor organizations may not elicit information, keep a record of, or use an application form, containing questions concerning race, color, religious creed, ancestry, age, sex, national origin, past handicap or disability or the use of a guide animal or support animal because of blindness, deafness or physical handicap of any applicant.
Prior to employment, it is unlawful for employers, employment agencies and labor organizations to:
- Deny or limit, through a quota system, employment or membership based on a protected category; and
- Substantially confine or limit recruiting or hiring individuals from any employment agency, employment service, labor organization, or any other employee-referring source that services individuals predominantly in the same protected category.
A private employer in Pennsylvania may adopt and apply a veterans preference employment policy in hiring new applicants and promoting current employees provided that the policy:
- Is in writing;
- Requires that any job posting includes a statement indicating that the employer has a veterans preference employment policy;
- Is provided to the applicant at the time of hiring and to all employees on an annual basis; and
- Is applied uniformly.
A veteran, the spouse of a disabled veteran, or a surviving spouse may all qualify for the preference provided they submit a Defense Department Form DD 214 to a private employer with a veterans preference employment policy for consideration. A voluntary veterans preference hiring policy shall not be considered a violation of any state or local equal employment opportunity law. +2016 Pa. ALS 135.
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