It’s been the hottest ticket on the Great White Way for a year, and continues to sell out months in advance. The hit musical “Hamilton,” based on the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton, features a racially mixed cast and a hip-hop score. Yet a recent ad placed by the show’s producers seeking “non-white” actors has run afoul of labor lawyers in New York and around the country.
Both federal law and New York City’s Human Rights Law prohibit job advertisements that discriminate on the basis of race, sex, age, and religion, among other categories. Following the uproar caused by the original casting call, the wording was amended to read “…for the non-white characters as written and conceived…” for “Hamilton.”
Legal experts say the revised verbiage seems to be compliant with federal (and local) law, according to what’s known as a “bona fide occupational qualification” that is “reasonably necessary to the normal operation of the particular business or enterprise.”
In other words, it can be OK to discriminate in certain instances that are protected by law. The apparent problem with the original casting call is that it excluded one entire racial group from applying for the job.