What are some defenses to a claim of national origin discrimination?

Author: Shannon C. Johnson

If an employee or applicant brings a claim of national origin discrimination, some common defenses include:

  • Bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) exception - An employer will not be liable for national origin discrimination if the requirement is reasonably necessary to the normal operation of the employer's particular business or enterprise. This defense is narrowly interpreted, and preferences of clients, customers or vendors cannot serve as a BFOQ based on national origin or as a defense to a claim of national origin discrimination;
  • Poor performance;
  • Violation of employer policy or workplace rules; and
  • Failure to meet statutory requirements - An employer may defend against a national origin discrimination claim brought before a court or an agency on the grounds that the employee or applicant failed to meet the statutory requirements and file the claim in a timely manner.