The job requirements of business in California vary depending on the work of the business. Employers need employees who can perform the job requirements effectively and efficiently to keep the business running. To ensure that the employees can perform the job requirements, they may have a policy not to hire certain employees who cannot perform those duties. Also, they may have policies in place for existing employees for safety.
Some of these policies on their face may seem discriminatory as they can prevent classes of people from working for the business. In general, policies that discriminate against a protected class are illegal, but there are situations when business may have affirmative defenses that may allow policies that seem discriminatory.
Potential affirmative defenses to discrimination claims
According to California law, these defenses include, but are not limited to:
- Bona Fide Occupational Qualification: This defense is available for policies that do eliminate a protected class, but the policy is necessary to ensure that all employees can perform the job requirements safely or the business would not be run correctly
- Business Necessity: This defense arises in cases of adverse impact claims for policies that on their faces do not seem to discriminate. The business needs to show the policy is necessary for safety and there are no other reasonable alternatives.
- Security Regulations: These are policies are in place to conform to federal or state laws.
- Affirmative Action Plans: Employers can use this defense if the alleged discrimination occurs as a result of following an affirmative action plan or non-discrimination plan
Employers in California often try to follow all of the laws and prevent discrimination. However, certain types of businesses need to have policies in place that ensure the safety of all their employees and ensure the business can provide its products and services. These necessities can lead to policies that seem discriminatory, but they may still be valid. Experienced attorneys understand these complex matters and may be able to guide a business through the process.