Wengler v. Druggists Mutual Insurance Company

PETITIONER: Wengler
RESPONDENT: Druggists Mutual Insurance Company
LOCATION: U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division

DOCKET NO.: 79-381
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: Supreme Court of Missouri

CITATION: 446 US 142 (1980)
ARGUED: Feb 25, 1980
DECIDED: Apr 22, 1980

ADVOCATES:
John W. Reid, II - On behalf of the Appellant
Ralph C. Kleinschmidt - on behalf of the Appellees

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Wengler v. Druggists Mutual Insurance Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 25, 1980 in Wengler v. Druggists Mutual Insurance Company

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - April 22, 1980 in Wengler v. Druggists Mutual Insurance Company

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the Court in Wengler against Druggists Mutual Insurance Company will be announced by Mr. Justice White.

Byron R. White:

This case comes to us on appeal from the Supreme Court of the State of Missouri.

The workers' compensation laws of that State provide that when an employed wife dies, the surviving husband is not entitled to benefits unless he is disabled or was dependent on the wife's earnings.

The surviving widow, however, is entitled to benefits without proving either disability or dependence.

This gender-based discrimination was challenged in the Missouri courts but the Supreme Court of that case upheld the provision as merely a justifiable recognition of what it thought to be a difference in the economic status of women and that of men.

We noted probable jurisdiction and for the reasons stated in an opinion on file with the clerk, we reversed.

We hold that the discrimination in this case which as we see it is -- is against both of the -- the deceased female wage earner and the surviving widower has not been adequately justified by the State and is violative of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The judgment of the Missouri Supreme Court is therefore reversed and the case is remanded to that court for further proceedings.

Mr. Justice Stevens has filed an opinion concurring in the result and Mr. Justice Rehnquist has filed a dissenting statement.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice White.