bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ)

A defense to acknowledged discrimination, usually based on the existence of a facially discriminatory policy, such as "individuals over the age of 50 shall not be hired as police officers."

Title VII permits you to 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 operation of the particular business or enterprise." This narrow exception has also been extended to discrimination based on age through the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). This exception does not apply to discrimination based on race.

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