Landmark Case

Dothard v. Rawlinson

Case Number

76-422

Opening doors for women
At 5'2" and 110 pounds, 22-year old Dianne Kimberly Rawlinson applied to become a correctional counselor with the Alabama prison system. Her education credentials were impressive, but she failed to meet the weight requirement of 120 pounds.

Rawlinson filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging sex discrimination. The Center filed a lawsuit on behalf of Rawlinson and another woman, Brenda Mieth, who had been refused a position as a state trooper. Like Rawlinson, Mieth did not meet state height and weight requirements.

At trial, the Law Center argued that the height and weight requirements had no actual relationship to the job requirements, and 33% of women would be excluded from employment as prison guards and state troopers by the statutory height requirements and 22% by the minimum weight requirements.

The trial court ruled in favor of Mieth and Rawlinson, but the Board of Corrections appealed Rawlinson's part of the case to a higher court. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ruling, agreeing that the height and weight requirements discriminated against women and bore no relationship to the job.

The landmark decision opened doors for women to be hired in law enforcement jobs that had traditionally been reserved for men.