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The existence of conflicting family obligations, if demonstrably more relevant to job performance for a woman than for a man, could arguably be a basis for distinction under § 703 (e) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, codified at 42 U.S.C.S. § 2000e-2. But that is a matter of evidence tending to show that the condition in question is a bona fide occupational qualification reasonably necessary to the normal operation of that particular business or enterprise.
Petitioner, Ida Phillips, a woman with pre-school age children, was informed by Martin Marietta Corp., a corporation with which petitioner sought employment, that the latter was not accepting job applications from women with pre-school age children, although it did employ men with pre-school age children. Petitioner thereafter commenced an action in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, alleging that she had been denied employment because of her sex. The District Court granted a summary judgment for the employer, concluding that, inasmuch as 70-75 percent of the applicants for the position petitioner sought were women and 75-80 percent of those hired for the position were women, no question of bias against women as such was presented. The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed and denied a rehearing en banc.
Was the grant of summary judgment appropriate in resolving the sex discrimination claims of petitioner?
On review, the Court vacated the award of summary judgment in favor of respondent corporation. According to the Court, 42 U.S.C.S. § 2000e-2 of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.S. § 2000e et seq., required that persons of like qualifications be given employment opportunities irrespective of their sex. The act did not permit one hiring policy for women and another policy for men. However, it was possible that the existence of conflicting family obligations could create a bona fide occupational qualification necessary for the operation of respondent's business. Therefore, summary judgment was improper since evidence was necessary to determine whether respondent's decision to refuse applications from women with pre-school age children was a bona fide occupational qualification necessary to respondent's enterprise.