In simple terms, business necessity is a legal concept often used to justify or define employment criteria from an employer’s perspective. In terms of law, it’s a condition that needs to be met to make an act lawful.
In other words, it's the basic requirements that must be fulfilled to run a company or business efficiently and effectively. It’s often determined by the necessary things you must accomplish to achieve your company’s goal.
Are There Any Examples of Business Necessity?
Several companies and organizations are continuously going through business necessity practices, and it has become very common in recent years. It’s often used in hiring practices such as:
1. Educational Requirements
There are several job listings that mention a certain educational qualification as a basic requirement. They’re also called minimum educational requirements, which a candidate must fulfill in order to get selected. For instance, job listings for positions like doctor or physician mention a medical degree that an applicant must possess for selection.
2. Experiential Requirements
Organizations and companies may also include specific years of relevant job experience as a basic requirement in the job listings. Experience in a similar job field can prepare applicants to cope with the new tasks and rules. But experience as a requirement can also reduce the selection chances of many potential candidates.
3. Travel Requirements
Specific jobs sometimes require employees to travel frequently for a large part of the year. In that scenario, the company may look for employees with good physical conditions for making those long travel commitments. This can also reduce the selection chances for several eligible candidates.
What Do You Mean by “Job-Related and Consistent With Business Necessity”?
Many companies use the term “job-related and consistent with business necessity” to justify their various hiring practices. In simple words, this term is used to show that the hiring criteria set by companies or organizations are absolutely crucial for the overall success of the business.
Proving Business Necessity in Court
To prove business necessity in court, the company must provide viable evidence that strictly proves that the criteria set by the authority are completely related to the business's success and have no disparate impact.
The ruling of business necessity originated from the case of Griggs v. Duke Power Co., where several key factors were established for the legal assessment of hiring practices.
Based on these factors, the employers have to prove things like:
The employment criteria cause little to no inequality.
There is a solid relationship between successful job performance and employee hiring criteria.
The standard of employment has to be determined by an individual who doesn’t have any relationship with the employer.
The job directly impacts public safety.
There is no other alternative to the existing employment criteria that might be more achievable for the job candidates.
Preventing Discrimination With the Help of Business Necessity
It’s completely illegal and unethical to discriminate based on ethnicity, race, sex, and disability while making employment decisions. This kind of unlawful practice can discourage eligible candidates from pursuing suitable jobs.
Although some employers can indeed use business necessity as a tool for discrimination, HR professionals have to be well-prepared to avoid such scenarios. They should be able to ensure an ideal hiring practice by implementing the factors mentioned above. The human resource department can also apply some additional policies befitting the organization to prevent discriminatory practices in the recruitment process.
Is There Any Difference Between Business Necessity and BFOQ?
BFOQ, also known as bona fide occupational qualification, is a legal term that allows employers to hire candidates based on sex, race, age, and nationality. For instance, the job listings of a bar can mention the age requirement to be 18 years for serving alcohol legally.
Although business necessities and BFOQ share many similarities, BFOQ allows employers to bypass several legal factors in the hiring process that business necessities can’t provide.