Dothard v. Rawlinson

433 U.S. 321, 97 S. Ct. 2720 (1977)



To establish a prima facie case of discrimination, a plaintiff need only show that the facially neutral standards in question select applicants for hire in a significantly discriminatory pattern. Once it is thus shown that the employment standards are discriminatory, the employer must meet the burden of showing that any given requirement has a manifest relationship to the employment. If the employer proves that the challenged requirements are job related, the plaintiff may then show that other selection devices without a similar discriminatory effect would also serve the employer's legitimate interests.


An applicant applied for a job as a prison guard and was turned down because she did not meet the statutory minimum height and weight requirements. She brought a class action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 78 Stat. 253, as amended, 42 U.S.C.S. § 2000e et seq., and under 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983, alleging that she had been denied employment because of her sex, in violation of federal law. While the suit was pending, the Alabama Board of Corrections adopted a regulation that created male only and female only positions in the prison system. The effect was to exclude women from 75 percent of the jobs in the system. She amended her suit to include a claim that the regulation violated federal law. The three-judge panel held that both the statute and regulation violated Title VII.


Did the District Court err in holding that Title VII prohibited application of the statutory height and weight requirements to appellee and the class she represents?




The District Court had properly concluded that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited application of Alabama's facially neutral height and weight statute, since (a) the plaintiff had established a prima facie case of unlawful sex discrimination upon showing that the statutory requirements would exclude over 41 percent of the nation's female population while excluding less that one percent of the male population, and (b) the prima facie case had not been rebutted on the ground that the statutory requirements were job related as having a relationship to the strength essential to effective job performance as a prison guard, no evidence having been presented by the defendants to correlate the statutory requirements with the amount of strength thought to be essential.

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