Protected classes. The Utah Antidiscrimination Act prohibits inquiries on job applications and in interviews that express any “limitation, specification, or discrimination” as to race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy (including childbirth and pregnancy-related conditions), national origin, age (40 years of age and over), disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity, unless there is bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) or a requirement for government security reasons (Utah Code § 34A-5-101 et seq.). The act covers all public employers and private employers with 15 or more employees.
Disabilities. According to state guidelines, employers may ask applicants about their ability to perform job-related functions as long as the questions are not phrased in terms of a disability. Employers are also permitted to ask a job applicant to describe or demonstrate, with or without reasonable accommodation, his or her ability to perform job-related functions. Employers may not ask whether an applicant has a disability or about the nature or severity of the disability.
BFOQ exception. The BFOQ exception allows an employer to make an employment inquiry only in cases in which a characteristic applying to an employee is necessary to the operation of the employer's business or is the essence of the employer's business (Utah Code § 34A-5-102). For example, being female would be a legitimate BFOQ for a person applying for a job as a model of women's clothing. The BFOQ exception applies only in limited circumstances, and in general, courts have been extremely reluctant to sanction otherwise discriminatory practices on BFOQ grounds. Employers should use caution in relying on the BFOQ rationale.