The Closet Moderate: FOQ or be FOQD

Monday, May 18, 2009

FOQ or be FOQD


Libertarians -- even small-l libertarians like me -- are required once yearly to compare our government to that dystopia described in Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron. And so, here we go: today I came across a story in the Houston Chronicle (h/t The Legal Satyricon) about a strip club in Texas being sued for age discrimination.

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At first, I thought that this was some over-the-hill employee trying to get one last payday out of the strip club when they finally -- at the age of 56 -- told her she was too old to work the pole. But this complaint was actually filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. That's right: our tax dollars are being used to ensure our rights to see some grandma bare-ass naked. The bullshit-legal-theory industry has survived the recession intact.

As a libertarian, I find all laws that force one person to hire or retain another person as an employee to be objectionable. I keep getting hung up on the liberty thing. But even taking anti-discrimination laws at face value, this case sounds like a loser. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act says, at section 623(f)(1), that it is not age discrimination "where age is a bona fide occupational qualification reasonably necessary to the normal operation of the particular business, or where the differentiation is based on reasonable factors other than age...." I think this qualifies under either exception. The stripping trade is completely superficial; appearance matters. In the law, this is theory is known by the awkward acronym BFOQ (bona fide occupational qualification). The idea that the government knows which qualifications for a job are bona fide and which are is a matter for another blog post.

I'm sure some of you are offended at the idea that a 56-year-old couldn't possibly be hot enough to strip. I have to believe, however, that, in that most mercenary of professions, if the club could have made money be retaining her in their employ, they would have done so. Despite all of the First Amendment suits they've filed, strip club owners are not in it for the free expression.

So, this is your brave new government at work. What's next, sex discrimination suits? Why shouldn't a strip club have to hire a man? Especially if he's competent at pole work? Why not an amputee? The only winner in all this is Montreal, whose reputation for the best strip clubs in North America is still un-threatened.

2 comments:

Harold Lasswell said...

I wonder if some enterprising EEOC member just hates strip clubs and sees this as a novel way of shutting them down?

Silent Cal said...

I must be off my game...abuse of power is usually the first thing I think of when I see an odd government action.