My employees do not want me to hire Hispanics, so I haven't. Is this a defense to a Title VII action?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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No, the prejudices of your employees are not a defense against a charge of discrimination on your part.  Let us examine why this is so.

First, we can establish that your action is indeed discriminatory under Title VII.  Title VII is part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Title VII prohibits employment discrimination against anyone on the basis of their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.  If you are refusing to hire Hispanics, you are discriminating against them on the basis of their race, color, or national origin.

Given that you are discriminating, we now have to determine whether your employees’ wishes constitute a defense.  They do not.  The following are the most important accepted defenses under Title VII.  As we will see, none of them apply in this case:

  • Employer is of the same protected class.  In other words, if you are Hispanic, you can use that fact to defend yourself against charges of anti-Hispanic discrimination.
  • Affirmative action.  Treating people differently because of an affirmative action program does not constitute discrimination under the law.
  • Bona fide occupational qualification.  You are not guilty of discrimination if all the people you are rejecting lack a certain qualification that is truly needed for the job. 

Clearly, none of these apply.  The fact that your employees do not like Hispanics does not allow you to discriminate against them.

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