Phillips v. Martin Marietta Corporation

PETITIONER: Ida Phillips
RESPONDENT: Martin Marietta Corporation
LOCATION: United States Court of Appeals for the Firth Circuit

DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1970-1971)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 400 US 542 (1971)
ARGUED: Dec 09, 1970
DECIDED: Jan 25, 1971

Donald T. Senterfitt - For the Respondent
William L. Robinson - For the Petitioner

Facts of the case

In 1966 Martin Marietta Corp. (Martin) informed Ida Phillips that it was not accepting job applications from women with preschool-age children; however, at this time, Martin employed men with preschool-age children. Phillips sued and alleged she had been denied employment because of her sex in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The district court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment by holding that, because seventy-five to eighty percent of the applicants hired for the position for which Phillips applied were women, there was insufficient evidence that there was bias against women. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed.


Does a refusal to hire women with preschool-age children while hiring men with such children, in the absence of business necessity, violate of the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

Media for Phillips v. Martin Marietta Corporation

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 09, 1970 in Phillips v. Martin Marietta Corporation

Warren E. Burger:

We'll hear arguments in number 73, Phillips against Martin Marietta Corporation and Mr. Robinson you may proceed whenever you are ready.

William L. Robinson:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court.

This case is before the Court on writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

The case involves a question of statutory construction of Section 703 (a) of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The question before the Court is whether Section 703 (a) permits an employer to refuse to hire women with pre-school-age children, while hiring men with pre-school-age children.

The bona fide occupational qualification standard or exemption to the Act under Section 703 (e) is not involved in this case.


William L. Robinson:

The bona fide occupational qualification standard which permits an employer to discriminate on the grounds of sex, religion or national origin if it is a bona fide occupation qualification.

That is not involved in this case --

Harry A. Blackmun:

Is that agreed to by both sides, Mr. Robinson?

William L. Robinson:

That, it's not --

Harry A. Blackmun:

It's not in the case?

William L. Robinson:

I don't know whether it's agreed to both sides sir, but it was not raised as a defense below.

We will concede, of course Your Honor, that if the case is reversed and goes to a file below, they would have the opportunity to raise that defense then.

Harry A. Blackmun:

At least am I not correct, the en banc court made reference to it, at least the dissenters did?

William L. Robinson:

Yes, the dissenters said that the company should have the right to raise the defense, which we of course concede.

Could you take your voice up Mr. Robinson --

William L. Robinson:

Yes sir, I will.

Petitioner Mrs. Ida Phillips is the mother of 7 children, who range in age from 3-15 years, when she applied to work with respondent Martin Marietta Company.

In September, 1966, petitioner applied for a job with respondent as an assembly trainee in response to its advertisement of 100 such positions.

Petitioner had a high school diploma, which was the only stated qualification for the job.

However, respondent told her, that it would not consider her for the job because she was a woman with pre-school age children.

Thereafter, petitioner filed a timely charge, alleging discrimination because she was a woman with pre-school-age children with the EEOC.

The EEOC made a finding of reasonable cause to believe that the refusal to hire her because she was a woman with pre-school-age children, constituted a violation of the Act.

When the Commission was unable to obtain voluntary compliance, the Commission authorized her to file a suit, which she did.

After petitioner filed the suit, respondent filed a motion to dismiss, which the District Court treated as a motion to strike and struck from petitioner's claim -- from petitioner's complaint those allegations claiming that she was discriminated against because she was because she had pre-school-age children.

Thereafter, respondent answered the complaint admitting that its receptionist told petitioner she would not be considered because she was woman with pre-school-age children, but denying that they discriminated against her solely on the grounds of her sex.

Thereafter, respondent moved for summary judgment, which motion the District Court granted based on statistics that 70, approximately 75% of the people hired as assembly trainees were women.

What was the allegation that was stricken?

William L. Robinson:

The allegation that she was discriminated against, because she had pre-school-age children, leaving standing then merely the fact that was she was discriminated against because she was a woman.