SBA Denies 8(a) Status Based on Applicant’s Ability to Successfully Overcome Gender-Based Discrimination in Her Field

OHA recently affirmed the 8(a) status denial of a 100% woman-owned small business performing in the historically male-dominated renewable energy field. The applicant—who SBA called an “advocate” and “mentor” to women in the industry—detailed specific instances of gender-based-discrimination that plagued her education, employment, and career. But SBA was unmoved, instead focusing its analysis on the applicant’s triumph over these obstacles—apparently an indication that she was not socially disadvantaged in the first place. Unfortunately, this perplexing holding does fall in line with many past SBA denials of women-owned companies for 8(a) status.

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8(a) Program: Accent, Lack of English Proficiency Not Evidence of Bias

A Bulgarian immigrant’s thick accent and lack of English proficiency were not evidence of bias, and did not support the immigrant’s 8(a) Program application.

In a recent 8(a) Program decision, the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals expressed sympathy for the language difficulties many immigrants face, but held that such difficulties, by themselves, do not constitute evidence of “social disadvantage” for 8(a) Program purposes because the 8(a) Program requires a showing of bias or prejudice.

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