Pink Cabs - Sexual Discrimination or Good Business Sense ?

Would a ladies only car service run afoul of sexual discrimination laws in the United States? That is the question posed by an interesting article covered by Jottings of an Employers' Lawyer today. Apparently in London, there is a private membership-required car service that provides cab service to women only. The cabs are also driven exclusively by women. (And yes, they are pink - I didn't make that up.) It isn't hard to understand why in London, just like in many large cities, women might feel more comfortable getting into a cab driven by another female. (According to the article, 10 women a month are attacked after getting into a cab - and that's just in London!)Jottings is of the opinion that such a service would not work here in the states because of our sexual discrimination laws. I haven't thought enough about it to give a definitive answer but my initial take is that perhaps it could work here. Firstly, it is structured as a membership-required service, and such groups have traditionally been allowed to be single-sex (Golf, anyone?).

Additionally, I think in a situation such as this, it is very likely that the employer could show that its drivers being female is a "bona fide occupational qualification" for the job. This is a fairly restrictive test to be sure but I think the situation of providing a gender-based safe car experience is very similar to only hiring women to work in female changing rooms or in medical facilities that have only female patients, both of which have been upheld in the past.

It is an interesting question.

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