genuine occupational requirement

genuine occupational requirement

A 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.
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There are exceptions in very limited circumstances if there is a genuine occupational requirement for a worker to be of a particular religion or belief in order to do the job or to comply with the religious or belief ethos of the organisation in question.
The tribunal, at Abergele town hall last December, heard Mr Sheridan claim that he felt uncomfortable with the way his employer implemented the Genuine Occupational Requirement (GOR) of the Employment and Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003.
A recent judicial review made it clear that the use of genuine occupational requirement to specify that someone must have a certain sexuality to be able to fulfil their work role would be extremely narrowly interpreted.
For example, there may be a genuine occupational requirement for a person to be of a specific sexual orientation, or of a specific religion or belief.
We are now aware that when making such an appointment we must make it clear if it is a genuine occupational requirement that the post-holder should believe in and uphold the Christian belief and ideal of marriage, and that sexual relationships are confined to marriage.
The tribunal in Abergele heard Mr Sheridan say that he felt uncomfortable with the way his employer implemented the Genuine Occupational Requirement (GOR) of the Employment and Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003.