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 Is a woman’s choice to work in a “dangerous field” superseded by the need to protect her from harm?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 Alabama’s Department of Public Safety, then appealed the case to the U. S. Supreme Court on the state’s behalf. Rule of Law:
Title VII requires: “the removal of artificial, arbitrary, and unnecessary barriers to employment when the barriers operate invidiously to discriminate on the basis of racial or other impermissible classification. ” -statistics show that the requirements really hurt the women way more than the men -it also discourages women from applying -Just like in Bryan v. Koch where New York City was closing its hospital and effecting the minorities, the court in this case also used second prong as legitimate objective. -disparate impact test: “plaintiff need only show that the facially neutral standards in question select applicants for hire in a significantly discriminatory pattern. Then the employer must meet the burden of showing that any given requirement has a manifest relationship to the employment in question.
If employer proves, then the plaintiff may then show that other selection devices without a similar discriminatory effect would also serve the employer’s legitimate interests in efficient and trustworthy workmanship. ” -the court also decided that not having women in contact in high security prisons is job related because it keeps women out of the way of sexual assaults. Dissent: Justice White argued that Rawlinson had not shown a discriminatory hiring pattern due to the height and weight requirement because she relied on height and weight statistics about the population at large and not the pool of applicants for prison guard positions in Alabama.
In his opinion, therefore, Rawlinson did not meet the weight requirement to serve as a prison guard and should have had no grounds to sue on the issue of the “close contact” provision. Other dissenting opinions came from Justices Marshall and Brennan, who concurred with the Court’s position as to the height and weight requirement, but disagreed with the ruling on “close contact. ” These two justices argued that no evidence existed to show that women prison guards are at any more risk of attack by inmates than male prison guards. They also asserted that violent behavior among the prison population should not be used as an excuse for denying job opportunities to female applicants