HR Employment Law Issues from A-Z

Posted by Melissa Fleischer, Esq. on Jun 17th 2010

Our second in our series of HR Employment Law Issues A-Z is for the letter “B”.  So we have chosen to discuss BFOQ which stands for Bona Fide Occupational Qualification.  BFOQ is an important defense that employers can use in response to certain discrimination claims under Title VII. 

Title VII is the federal employment discrimination law that prohibits employment discrimination based upon five protected classes, to wit, race, color, religion, sex and national origin.  Title VII allows employers to defend their discriminatory actions if they can show that religion, sex or national origin is a bona fide occupational qualification reasonable necessary to the normal operation of that business.  For instance, a prison could defend its actions in only hiring female guards for the position of conducting body searches on female inmates by claiming that sex is a BFOZ for this position.  The EEOC and courts interpret the BFOQ defense very narrowly so it is difficult to establish.

Check back with us tomorrow when we discuss the third in our series of HR Employment Law Issues from A-Z dealing with the letter “C”.