Discriminatory Protective Rules Illegal – discrimination against men in the workplace – Albert Crane v. Vision Quest National – Brief Article
D. Diane Hatch
An employer’s policy of exempting women from working during evening hours in a high-crime area of Philadelphia constitutes unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII, according to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Vision Quest National in 1994 implemented a policy that exempted female program administrators from duty on the 4 p.m. to midnight shift after several female staff members threatened to quit if they had to work night duty.
Albert Crane was required to work evening hours frequently, and complained to Vision Quest about the practice. He was terminated and then filed suit alleging sex discrimination. The company claimed as a defense that the exemption for female employees was a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ).
The district court entered judgment in favor of Crane because there was no evidence that the services Vision Quest provided would be impaired if evening duty “had not been assigned to males exclusively.” It found that the BFOQ defense was available only when “necessary to the normal operation of a particular business or enterprise,” and that evening hours and safety concerns were not “at the essence” of its business. Crane v. Vision Quest National, E.D. Pa., No. 98-4797 (8/23/00).
Impact: Employers are advised that well-intentioned employment policies and practices intended to protect the health and safety of a protected class of employees must be justified as a BFOQ.
D. Diane Hatch, Ph.D., is a human resources consultant based in San Francisco. James E. Hall is an attorney with the law firm of Barlow, Kobata and Denis, with offices in Los Angeles and Chicago.
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