Are there any situations in which an employer can favor one sex over the other?

Author: Shannon C. Johnson

Yes. While federal law generally prohibits gender discrimination or the favorable treatment of one gender over another in hiring, firing, pay, job assignment, promotion, layoff, training, fringe benefits or any other term or condition of employment, it is permissible to favor one sex over the other if the decision is based on a bona fide occupational qualification and legitimately related to the job at issue. For example, an employer may hire a female over a male for the job of modeling ladies swimsuits. The bona fide occupational qualification exception defense is interpreted very narrowly and may be used only in cases where an individual's gender is reasonably necessary to the normal operation of that particular business or enterprise.