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When customers practice discrimination, employer may pay

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Human Resources

by Mark S. Mathison, Esq., and Bryan M. Seiler, Esq.

Most employers are well aware that it is unlawful for them to discriminate on the basis of race, gender and other protected classes or characteristics. But what about when a customer demands service on a discriminatory basis? What if a client says she wants to be served only by someone of a certain race?

A recent case shows how an employer can run afoul of the law in such a circumstance. That’s despite the employer’s well-intended efforts to comply with the law.

The history of customer preference

You may be familiar with the “customer preference” line of cases decided in the 1960s and ’70s, soon after Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 became the law of the land.

In those cases, employers argued that white customers’ preference for white servers at lunch counters, men’s preference for pretty, young women as flight attendants and similar discriminatory attitudes jus...(register to read more)

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