Definitions for "Bona Fide Occupational Qualification"
(BFOQ) - The "BFOQ Defense" is used to justify a practice that, on its face, excludes an entire group of persons on a basis protected by the law (e.g., all women). The Fair Employment and Housing Commission (FEHC) regulations makes the BFOQ defense available where the employer can "prove that the [discriminatory] practice is justified because all or substantially all of the excluded persons are unable to safely and efficiently perform the job in question and because the essence of the business operations would otherwise be undermined." FEHC Regulations Section 7286.7(a). Remember that stereotyped impressions of male and female roles do not qualify gender as a BFOQ. Stereotyped customer preferences do not justify a sexually discriminatory practice.
A very narrowly interpreted exception to EEO laws that allows employers to base employment decisions for a particular job on such factors as sex, religion or national origin, if they are able to demonstrate that such factors are an essential qualification for performing a particular job.
A defense allowing an employer to limit a particular job to members of one sex, religion or national origin group. The courts have held that the statutory BFOQ provision in Title VII is a very narrow exception to the general prohibition against discrimination on the basis of those characteristics. In enforcing the Executive Order, OFCCP follows Title VII principles regarding the BFOQ exception. An employer claiming that sex is a BFOQ for a job has to show that all (or substantially all) members of the excluded sex are incapable of performing the duties of the job and that failure to allow the exclusion would undermine the "essence"--the central purpose or mission--of the employer's business. Race can never be considered a BFOQ for a job.