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Bowe v. Colgate-Palmolive

Bona Fide Occupational Qualification

The term bona fide occupation qualification (BFOQ) usually arises in reference to situations involving age discrimination, though it is possible for the notion of a BFOQ to be used in gender-discrimination lawsuits as well. A BFOQ is, as its name suggests, an essential requirement for performing a given job.

To use an extraordinary example, a prospective astronaut would need to be physically fit in all regards, including 20/20 vision, and should possess a great deal of mental and physical poise. These are all BFOQs, and persons with nervous conditions, bad eyesight, poor sense of balance, a handicap of any kind, or other such challenges need not apply.

But being a male is by no means a BFOQ for the job of astronaut, as Sally Ride proved when she became the first American woman to go into space in 1983. Nor is age a clear BFOQ, as shown by 77-year-old Senator (and former astronaut) John Glenn when he returned to outer space in 1998.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1963 to 1972Bowe v. Colgate-Palmolive - Significance, Protective Legislation, Gender Segregation, The First Round, Appeals Court Overrules, Impact