- Article Information
- Published on Thursday, 21 July 2011 10:04
A BFOQ is an acronym for Bona Fide Occupational Qualification. The term is explained in Title VII, which provides that in very limited situations an employer may discriminate on the basis of “religion, sex, or national origin in those instances where religion, sex, or national origin is a bona fide occupational qualification reasonably necessary to the normal business operation of the particular business or enterprise” [emphasis added], and the employer will have the burden of proof on this issue. The exception does not include race but has been extended to age pursuant to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Whether a workplace policy is sufficient to establish a BFOQ must be determined on a case by case basis. A careful review of the job’s particular nature and the duties it involves will be required. For example, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was asked to provide an opinion regarding whether sex can be a BFOQ for a psychotherapist when “[a] treating clinician/psychiatrist strongly recommends as patient treatment, that the patient be cared for by female staff, due to multiple mental disability diagnoses and abuse (patient’s negative reaction to males is believed to be a factor that will hinder her treatment program).” In response to this inquiry, the EEOC noted that although Title VII permits a gender based assignment if it is a bona fide occupational qualification reasonably necessary to the normal operation of that particular business, the “BFOQ exception is very narrow and applies only in limited circumstances…Under this standard, an individual cannot be excluded because of sex unless that individual’s sex prevents him or her from being able to safely or efficiently perform job-related activities that fall within the ‘essence’ of the employer’s business.” Read More.