In “general,” churches are not subject to the ADA since the federal law only applies to employers with 15 or more employees. States, however, may have corresponding statutes with different thresholds for compliance. Despite the statutory exemptions available to small employers, churches will usually feel morally inclined to respond to the goals of the Act. Below are PA’s requirements (sampling):
“The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act prohibits employment practices that discriminate against individuals or independent contractors on the basis of non-job-related handicap or disability, or the use of a guide or support animal because of blindness, deafness, or physical handicap of any individual or independent contractor, unless the practice is based on a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) exception. The Act covers all public employers and private employers with four or more employees (PA Stat. Tit. 43 Sec. 951 et seq.). Under the Act, it is unlawful for an employer to:
- Refuse to hire, employ, or contract with, or to bar or discharge an individual or independent contractor on the basis of handicap or disability, if the individual or contractor is “the best able and most competent” to perform the services required.
- Elicit any information, make or keep a record, or use an application form to inquire about a past handicap, disability, or use of a support animal.
- Print or publish a job advertisement indicating any preference, limitation, specification, or discrimination based on handicap, disability, or use of a support animal.
- Deny employment because of a prior handicap or disability.
- Discriminate against an individual who has opposed an unlawful discriminatory practice, made a charge, or testified or assisted in any investigation, proceeding, or hearing under the Act.
- Attempt to commit an unlawful discriminatory act, or to aid, abet, compel, or coerce anyone to commit an unlawful discriminatory act, or to obstruct or prevent compliance with the Act or a commission order.”
The EEOC provides information regarding “reasonable accommodation” at this link: http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/accommodation.html.