In general, employment laws do not dictate the qualifications or characteristics employers may look for when hiring employees. An acute-care hospital may require nurses to have a license in order to care for patients. A trucking company may require drivers to have a commercial driver's license.
However, it is illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of age, religion, gender, or race when hiring employees. There is a major exception to this rule when any of these characteristics is considered a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ). A BFOQ is defined as any requirement which when viewed on the surface seems biased but is reasonably necessary for the performance of the job.
Since the 1960's, a fine dining restaurant on the Upper East Side of New York City has traditionally hired men for its wait staff. Staff members are required to wear black pants and white tuxedo shirts with long white aprons. Customers appreciate the professional-looking attire and openly state their preference for male employees. Most of the clientele have been coming to the restaurant for decades and look forward to dining in the familiar atmosphere where they are treated as family. There are many restaurants in the neighborhood to choose from, and the owners do not want to make changes possibly resulting in a loss of customers.
Is customer preference sufficient to make male wait staff hiring a BFOQ? Why, or why not? What is the cost of doing business and the issues faced by the owner? Does the customer play any part in the restaurant owner's decision?
Identify two other positions allowing an employer to make an employment decision based on the worker's gender.
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