The Legal Implications of Complying with Race and Gender-Based Client Preferences

By Curt Levey
June 03, 2007
Over forty years ago, Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act, a milestone in the fight against racial discrimination. One of the Act’s most controversial provisions was Title VII, which prohibits racial discrimination by employers with more than fifteen employees. Some critics of this provision were concerned about employers who did not want to discriminate on the basis of race but were forced to do so because their customers demanded it. These opponents were worried that some employers who were forbidden from using race to make employment decisions would be driven out of business because some customers preferred to interact with employees only of particular races. They tried to amend Title VII with an exception that would permit employers to discriminate on the basis of race to satisfy customer preferences....