Dothard v. Rawlinson
|Dothard v. Rawlinson|
Supreme Court of the United States
|Argued April 19, 1977
Decided June 27, 1977
|Full case name||Dothard, Director, Department of Public Safety of Alabama, et al. v. Dianne Rawlinson, et al.|
|Citations||433 U.S. 321 (more)
97 S. Ct. 2720; 53 L. Ed. 2d 786; 1977 U.S. LEXIS 143; 15 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 10; 14 Empl. Prac. Dec. (CCH) P7632
|Prior history||Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama|
|Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an employer may not, in the absence of business necessity, set height and weight restrictions which have a disproportionately adverse effect on one gender.|
|Majority||Stewart, joined by Burger, Brennan, Marshall, Blackmun, Powell, Rehnquist, Stevens|
|Concurrence||Rehnquist, joined by Burger, Blackmun|
|Concur/dissent||Marshall, joined by Brennan|
In the 1970s there were height and weight restrictions (minimum 5’2”, 120 lbs) to be considered as an applicant for an Alabama prison guard. Such requirements ruled out Dianne Rawlinson, who brought forth a class action suit against these requirements under the disparate impact theory of Title VII. After Rawlinson filed her suit Alabama passed a regulation requiring that guards be the same sex as the inmates, at the time in Alabama there were four all male maximum security prisons and only one all female prison.
The lower court sided with Rawlinson claiming that the requirements created an arbitrary barrier to equal employment to women. The State then appealed to the Supreme Court claiming that sex, height and weight requirements were valid occupational qualifications given the nature of the job.
Opinion of the Court
The Court ruled 8-1 that the height and weight restrictions were discriminatory, and that the employer had not proven that the height and weight standards were necessary for effective job performance. On the issue of whether women could fill close contact jobs in all male maximum security prisons the Court ruled 6-3 that the BFOQ defense was legitimate in this case. The reason for this finding is that female prison guards were more vulnerable to male sexual attack than male prison guards.
- Cushman, C., 2001, Supreme Court Decisions and Women's Rights. CQ Press. pp. 122-8