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Shape of the state of Pennsylvania with the article's title to the right.

Pennsylvania Disability Discrimination Laws

Specific provisions for the state of Pennsylvania.

Team Disclo
September 13, 2022

Employers must make reasonable accommodations by modifying equipment and tools so they can be used by employees with a handicap or disability, unless these accommodations would impose undue hardship on employers. Employers also must allow these employees to provide their own equipment or tools in order to function properly in their job. In addition to the factors listed below, undue hardship in this context is determined based on factors such as how modifications would affect other employees’ use of equipment, warranties on equipment, and whether modifications can be made under applicable health and safety laws.

Employers must make reasonable accommodations through job modifications for employees with a handicap or disability, unless these accommodations would impose undue hardship on employers. Accommodations can include modifying duties or scheduling and the amount or nature of training or assistance provided. This requirement doesn’t mean that employers have to apply different production, attendance, or disciplinary standards to employees with a handicap or disability.

Employers can’t unlawfully deny employment opportunities to people with a handicap or disability if the basis of the denial is their need for reasonable accommodations, unless these accommodations would impose undue hardship on employers. Employers also can’t unlawfully limit, classify, or segregate people with a handicap or disability in ways that adversely affect their employment opportunities, although this prohibition doesn’t mean that employers have to make accommodations that would impose undue hardship on them.

Employers can’t refuse to hire applicants, discharge or refuse to promote employees, or subject employees to different terms or conditions of employment based on a current nonjob-related handicap or disability that could become job-related or based on a past job-related handicap or disability that may or may not recur, although this prohibition doesn’t mean that employers have to make accommodations that would impose undue hardship on them. In addition to the factors listed below, undue hardship in this context is determined based on factors such as the length, cost, and nature of required job training and the length of service that can reasonably be expected before the handicap or disability likely becomes job-related.

Undue hardship is determined based on factors such as:

  • the overall size and nature of employers’ business or organization, including the workforce size, structure, and composition and the number and type of facilities;
  • employers’ prior good-faith efforts to accommodate similar handicaps or disabilities;
  • the extent, nature, and cost of needed accommodations;
  • the extent to which people with a handicap or disability can reasonably be expected to want the job that is the subject of an accommodation request; and
  • legal or proprietary interest in the subject of proposed accommodations, including the authority to make the accommodations under the terms of a bona fide agreement governing or describing rights and duties regarding the subject.

In addition, employers can’t deny reasonable requests from applicants for assistance in completing the job application process.

Workplace access: Employers must comply with the following requirements, except to the extent that doing so would impose undue hardship on them:

  • A workplace must be designed and constructed without architectural and other barriers or omissions that interfere with the effective use of, entrance to, exit from, and mobility within buildings, work areas, offices, facilities, and similar areas by people with a handicap or disability if the workplace’s final design and construction plans were completed after Nov. 6, 1978. Facilities include all or any part of buildings, structures, equipment, roads, walkways, parking lots, fixtures, and other property.
  • If substantial alterations or alterations that could impact people with a handicap or disability are made to all or part of a workplace after that date, they must be planned and executed without those barriers or omissions in affected areas.
  • In existing facilities, employers must make reasonable accommodations for people with a handicap or disability by eliminating those barriers or omissions.

Employers are in compliance if a workplace’s design, construction, or alterations conform with relevant specifications issued by the American National Standards Institute or by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry Standards under the state’s Architectural Barriers Law (71 Pa. Stat. §§ 1455.1 to 1455.3a). Departures from these specifications are compliant if they provide equivalent access or an equivalent opportunity to use workplace areas in an integrated setting.

Under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers, including state and local governments, with 15 or more employees, are prohibited from discriminating against people with disabilities. Title I protects qualified individuals with disabilities in several areas, including job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation and job training. It is also unlawful to retaliate against someone for opposing employment practices that discriminate based on disability, or for filing an ADA discrimination charge. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) shares enforcement authority for Title I of the ADA with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which has primary responsibility for enforcing the employment provisions of the law. (Note: Federal employees and job applicants are covered by Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 instead of the ADA.

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