U.S. federal fair employment laws generally prohibit discrimination in employment on the basis of certain protected characteristics, including race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, and disability. However, fair employment laws permit employers to discriminate based on a protected characteristic in rare situations when the characteristic is considered a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) for the job in question.

The BFOQ defense is potentially available in those Title VII cases where it has been established, and not merely alleged, that an employer’s employment policy intentionally discriminated on the basis of religion, sex, or national origin. The BFOQ defense does not apply to discrimination based on race or color. It is also potentially available in cases involving employer policies that have been shown to intentionally discriminate on ...

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