City of L.A. Dep't of Water & Power v. Manhart

435 U.S. 702, 98 S. Ct. 1370 (1978)



In forbidding employers to discriminate against individuals because of their sex, Congress intended to strike at the entire spectrum of disparate treatment of men and women resulting from sex stereotypes. 


The city required female employees to make monthly contributions to the retirement fund, which were 14.84 percent higher than the contributions required of comparable male employees. The legislature enacted a law prohibiting municipal agencies from requiring female employees to make higher pension fund contributions than males. The city, therefore, amended its plan, drawing no distinction, either in contributions or in benefits, on the basis of sex. On a motion for summary judgment, the district court ordered a refund of all excess contributions made before the amendment of the plan, and the court of appeals affirmed. The city argued that the different contributions exacted from men and women were based on the factor of longevity rather than sex. 


Did the contested pension discriminate against individual female employees because of their sex in violation of § 703 (a)(1) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended?




An employment practice that requires 2,000 individuals to contribute more money into a fund than 10,000 other employees simply because each of them is a woman, rather than a man, is in direct conflict with both the language and the policy of the Act. Such a practice does not pass the simple test of whether the evidence shows "treatment of a person in a manner which but for that person's sex would be different." It constitutes discrimination and is unlawful unless exempted by the Equal Pay Act of 1963 or some other affirmative justification.

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