The HR Dictionary

Bona Fide Occupational Qualification

A bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) is a very narrowly interpreted exception to Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws. A BFOQ allows employers to base employment decisions for a particular job on such factors as sex, religion, or national origin if they are able to demonstrate that such factors are essential for performing a particular job. 

The Bona Fide Occupational Qualifications rule is an exemption to the general prohibition against employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

The law that makes it against the law to discriminate against employees is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. An exception to Title VII's "prohibition of discrimination based on sex, religion, or national origin" is contained in the statutory clause CM-625 Bona Fide Occupational Qualifications. The Bona Fide Occupational qualification (BFOQ) exception recognizes that, in a very small number of cases, a person's sex, religion, or national origin may be reasonably necessary to perform a specific role successfully in the regular course of an employer's business or venture.