Protected employment discrimination for BFOQ

I have written recent posts on religious discrimination.  Employment decisions can be based on religion in some circumstances.

First, the restrictions under federal law only apply to employers with fifteen or more employees (state law may have similar protections but require fewer employees).

Second, there may be a BFOQ, a bona fide occupational qualification.  For instance, a Catholic church is not required to consider the application of a Baptist minister to be a priest.  Certain religious belief may also be a qualification when the job involves teaching or presenting doctrine.   For example, a private, religious school may lawfully require that its teachers be members of a particular denomination, and may bar anyone who is not a member from employment.  BFOQs apply when the qualification is reasonably necessary to perform job duties for a position or when necessary to the normal operations of the employer.   A Christian college may lawfully require positions such as president, chaplain, and faculty to be Christians or to make a profession of faith.

This exception also applies to the other protected classes under Title VII, as well as to the protections under the ADEA.  For example, a transportation company may legitimately place an age restriction on a pilot or driver for public safety purposes.  And a “gentlemen’s club” need only hire women for some of its positions because being female is essential to “the job.”

Federal law states:

[I]t shall not be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to hire and employ employees, for an employment agency to classify, or refer for employment any individual, for a labor organization to classify its membership or to classify or refer for employment any individual, or for an employer, labor organization, or joint labor-management committee controlling apprenticeship or other training or retraining programs to admit or employ any individual in any such program, on the basis of his religion, sex, or national origin in those certain instances where religion, sex, or national origin is a bona fide occupational qualification reasonably necessary to the normal operation of that particular business or enterprise.

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About Andrew (Andy) Wampler

For over a decade, I have provided legal services to businesses and individuals in Northeast Tennessee. I spend time litigating breaches of contract, medical malpractice, and commercial disputes and have worked on a number of transactions. I also advise businesses, working much of my time on healthcare and employment matters.

One response to “Protected employment discrimination for BFOQ”

  1. The Venture Catalyst says :

    Thanks for that, gets you thinking for sure.

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