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Labor and Employment Law

Customer preferences

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The Preferred Preferences In Employment Discrimination Law, Emily Gold Waldman Jan 2018

The Preferred Preferences In Employment Discrimination Law, Emily Gold Waldman

Elisabeth Haub School of Law Faculty Publications

In theory, customer preferences cannot justify discriminatory treatment by employers. The reality is more complicated. Built into the structure of federal employment discrimination law are several openings for customer preferences to provide employer defenses to what would otherwise likely be actionable discrimination.

This Article explores when and which customer preferences can enter those openings. It focuses on what I deem the “preferred preferences”: the customer preferences that have formed the basis of successful employer defenses to discrimination claims. This Article identifies and evaluates six such preferences: (1) aesthetic appeal; (2) physical privacy from employees of the opposite sex; (3) psychological …