genuine occupational requirement
genuine occupational requirementA term used in the context of discrimination legislation relating to sex, race, religion or belief, age and sexual orientation, where an employer is allowed to discriminate in recruitment, transfers, training or dismissal, if the employer can prove that a genuine occupational requirement (GOR) or, in the case of sex or race, genuine occupational qualification (GOQ) exists.
This limited defence applies where the nature of the role makes it unsuitable for individuals with particular characteristics. For example, the GOQ defence may be available where the essential nature of a job requires that it be carried out by a person of a particular sex—e.g., jobs that involve physical contact, and issues of decency or privacy arise. Similarly, under the Race Relations Act, an employer may justify employing only individuals of a particular racial background for the purposes of “authenticity” in a particular setting, such as a restaurant—e.g., Ethiopian or Indian restaurants.
However, there are very strict conditions that must be met for this defence, and the employer has the burden of proving the need to discriminate. The discriminatory characteristic must be a genuine and determining requirement of the job; it must be proportionate to apply that requirement in the particular case, and either the prospective employee must not meet the requirement or the employer must be satisfied that the person does not meet it. Employers must also ensure that before committing to positive action they have evidence to show that the targeted group is under-represented within the workforce or is likely to have a particular disadvantage in taking up or doing that type of work.