The Montana Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race or color (MT Code Sec. 49-2-101 et seq.). The law applies to all employers in the state regardless of size. Under the state law, it is unlawful to:
• Refuse to hire, discharge, or otherwise discriminate with respect to an individual's compensation or terms of employment.
• Retaliate against an individual who exercises his or her rights under the law or an individual assisting in the investigation or enforcement of the state law.
• Publish an advertisement for employment specifying a limitation or discrimination as to race or color.
Bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) exception. The state law does provide that an employer may hire an individual on the basis of race or color if race or color is a BFOQ. However, the BFOQ exception for race or color is extremely rare (e.g., hiring actors to portray individuals of a certain race) and employers should be very cautious in relying on a BFOQ when making employment decisions.
Note: According to guidance issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the protected characteristics of race and color can never be used as a BFOQ under federal fair employment laws such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.