After her application for employment as a "correctional counselor" in Alabama was rejected because she failed to meet the minimum 120-pound weight requirement of an Alabama statute, which also establishes a height minimum of 5 feet 2 inches, Dianne Rawlinson filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and ultimately brought a class action against appellant corrections officials challenging the statutory height and weight requirements and a regulation establishing gender criteria for assigning correctional counselors to "contact" positions, or positions requiring close physical proximity to inmates, as a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, inter alia. Issue:
Do employment requirements that remove 41% of women as acceptable candidates for the job create a discriminatory practice? Is a woman’s choice to work in a “dangerous field” superseded by the need to protect her from harm? Decision of the Court:
The Supreme Court decision upheld the lower court’s ruling that is was a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Court did find that bona fide occupational qualifications could permit the hiring of one gender. Reasoning of the Court:
The district court ruled in Rawlinson's favor on both counts. It relied on national statistics that outlined the comparative heights and weights of men and women to show that the Alabama prison guard requirements would exclude more than 40 percent of the female population but less than one percent of the male population. The court held that this, on its face, was evidence of sex discrimination against women. On the issue of the "close contact" prohibition, the district court rejected the state of Alabama's contention that being male was a necessary qualification for serving as a guard in a male penitentiary. It decreed that this regulation was impermissible under Title VII as well. E. C. Dothard, the director of...