by Matthew A. Peterson*
This Contribution examines whether a bar can discriminate on the basis of gender in its bartender hiring practices. Matthew Peterson (’21) argues that Title VII’s bona fide occupational qualification (“BFOQ”) exception should not shield bars from gender discrimination liability. The text and purpose of Title VII command a narrow interpretation of the BFOQ exception, and a bar catering to preferences for female bartenders is precisely the type of undesirable hiring practice that Title VII seeks to prohibit. The “essence” of a bar is making and distributing drinks, and the completion of these tasks does not depend upon the gender of a bartender. Courts should not permit bars to justify such discrimination with claims of supporting “authentic entertainment.” Unlike an actor or dancer, whose core job function is performance, a bartender’s primary responsibility is providing service.