Dothard v. Rawlinson Case Brief

Facts of the Case

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.




“Yes, No. In a 7-2 decision, Justice Potter Stewart wrote the majority opinion affirming in part and reversing in part. The Supreme Court held that the height and weight requirements violated Title VII because Rawlinson showed that the requirement excluded 41% of females in the nation, and the Department was unable to show that the requirement was job-related. The “contact position” ban was a bona fide occupational qualification, however, so Title VII did not prohibit it. The Court held that having women in these positions would create substantial security and safety problems. Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote a concurrence, agreeing that the “contact position” ban relates to a bona fide occupational qualification, but stating that the district court should have analyzed the height and weight requirement in more depth. Justice Harry A. Blackmun joined in the concurrence.Justice Thurgood Marshall wrote a partial dissent, agreeing that the height and weight requirements violated Title VII, but expressing that the ban on women in “contact positions” is also prohibited. Justice William J. Brennan joined in the concurrence. Justice Byron R. White wrote a dissent, stating that showing that the general height and weight statistics do not establish a valid case. Rawlinson also hadn’t proved she was denied employment under the “contact position” rule because she didn’t meet the height and weight requirement in the first place.”

Case Information

Citation: 433 US 347 (1977)
Decided: Jun 27, 1977
Argued: Apr 19, 1977
Granted: Nov 29, 1976
Case Brief: 1977