Why is it Important for There to be a Bona-Fide Reason for Certain Job Requirements?
Southern California employment lawyers provides advice to employers and employees on laws that govern the employment relationship. Brown & Charbonneau, LLP can represent you if you are an employee and you feel that your employer may have violated state or federal laws on discrimination, workplace safety, or wage payments. We can also provide representation to employers who wish to ensure they are in compliance with the law to reduce the chances of litigation or who need help responding to claims made against them that they violated any worker protection rules.
There are many legal issues that an expert employment lawyer can provide both employers and employees with legal advice on, including the importance of ensuring that job requirements have a bona fide relationship to the actual job duties. This is vital in certain cases, such as when a job requirement has the effect of disproportionately disqualifying members of a protected class.
Why is a Bona Fide Relationship to the Job so Important for Job Requirements?
Employers often impose many conditions on who they will hire for a given position. For example, if an employer is hiring someone to load trucks, the employer may impose a condition that the person who is being hired is able to lift 50 pounds. Some of the conditions employers impose on the hiring process will specifically relate to the skills that an employee has, such as being able to lift or being able to type. Others may relate to the knowledge or education that an employee has, such as being able to pass a test showing off industry knowledge or having a college degree.
Sometimes, when an employer imposes job-related conditions, those conditions will end up having the effect of disqualifying a group of people who are protected by laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. These different Acts protect people who are older or who have disabilities, and they also forbid employers from discriminating on the basis of race, religion, national origin, gender and color.
If an employer institutes a specific job requirement and it disproportionately impacts any member of a protected class – like disqualifying many more disabled people than able-bodied people or disqualifying many more African Americans than people of other races – this could be viewed as unlawful employment discrimination. In fact, it could be considered to be a specific type of discrimination, called disparate impact discrimination, even if an employer did not actually intend for the job requirement to be discriminatory or to have a discriminatory effect.
Employees who lose out on job opportunities or who lose out on promotional opportunities as a result of disparate impact discrimination can pursue a legal claim against an employer and can sue for discrimination. However, an employer could defend against a claim of disparate impact discrimination by showing that the job requirement that is having the discriminatory impact is actually a legitimate requirement with a real, bona-fide connection with the applicant’s ability to do the job in question.
For example, if a church was serving as an employer and was trying to hire a priest to give sermons, the employer could impose a religious test on the applicants to make sure that the priest was of the same religious denomination as the church. However, if a church was an employer and was hiring a janitor, the church would not be able to impose a religious test because practicing the same religion as the church is not necessary for a janitor to do his job within that church.
It can be complicated to determine if a particular job requirement both is discriminatory and if that requirement has a bona fide connection to job responsibilities, so both employers and employees who are concerned that a particular job requirement might be problematic should consult with an experienced attorney at Brown & Charbonneau, LLP for help.
Getting Help from Southern California Employment Lawyer
The expert employment lawyers at Brown & Charbonneau, LLP will provide comprehensive legal advice on all aspects of the employer / employee relationship. Whether you are a worker who wants to make sure your rights are protected – and who wants to take action if you’re rights have been violated – or an employer who wants to avoid a lawsuit or who is responding to being sued, we can help.
To find out more about the assistance that we offer, give us a call at 866-237-8129 or contact us online today.