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Business necessity determinations in disparate impact cases are reviewed under the clearly erroneous standard of review applied to factual findings. Fed. R. Civ. P. 52(a). Thus, the reviewing court may reverse the district court's finding of business necessity only if it is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.
Appellant Crystal Chambers, a black single woman, was employed by the Omaha Girls Club as an arts and crafts instructor at the Club’s facility. Appellant became pregnant and informed her supervisor of that fact. Subsequently, she received a letter notifying her that because of her pregnancy, which was in violation of the Club’s role model rule, her employment was to be terminated. Shortly after her termination, appellant filed charges with the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission (NEOC) alleging discrimination on the basis of sex and marital status. The NEOC found no reasonable cause to believe that unlawful employment discrimination had occurred. Appellant then brought the present action in the district court seeking injunctions and damages. Appellant alleged, among other things, violations of Title VII. The district court ruled in favor of the Club, holding that the club's role model rule was an employment practice that was consistent with Title VII because it was justifiable as a business necessity or a bona fide occupational qualification.
Was the Club’s model rule justifiable as a business necessity or a bona fide occupational qualification, thereby rendering the rule consistent with Title VII?
On appeal, the court held that the district court's account of the evidence was plausible in light of the record viewed in its entirety; thus, the district court’s finding that the club's role model rule was justified by business necessity was not clearly erroneous. The court held that the rule also qualified as a bona fide occupational qualification. Accordingly, the orders and judgment of the district court were affirmed.