The BFOQ Defense in ADEA Suits: The Scope of “Duties of the Job”

This Note examines these three possible interpretations of which job characteristics a court must examine when determining the validity of a BFOQ defense to an ADEA suit and concludes that the Eighth Circuit’s standard is correct. Because disputes over which interpretation is proper arise almost exclusively in cases involving public safety occupations, this Note discusses the standards for measuring that scope within the framework of the policy considerations associated with public safety. Part I of this Note discusses the three current standards used to determine the scope of the BFOQ defense. Part II illuminates the problems inherent in having three different standards and argues that a single standard most fully effectuates the goals of the ADEA. Furthermore, Part II argues that in light of the statutory language, legislative history, and policy concerns behind the ADEA, courts should follow the Eighth Circuit and define “duties of the job” to mean the specific duties performed by the employee.