In 1975 in Montgomery, Alabama, Colonel Dothard explained to Dianne Rawlinson that because she was only 115 pounds, she didn’t meet the position’s 120-pound weight requirement for working in the correctional department at the Alabama male maximum security penitentiary as a correctional counselor (Gillian 35). The Alabama correctional department was predominantly a male job because of the height and weight regulations (Frost-Knappman and Cullen-DuPont 400). Rawlinson opened the door for female advancement in the workplace in order to bring equality among males and females. She fought for the integration of women into the Alabama correctional department because the prison system discriminated against women.
Rawlinson wanted to work in the Alabama corrections department because she wanted to be a part of the movement of females entering a male dominated workplace. She wanted to be a correctional counselor because she majored in correctional psychology. After Colonel Dothard refused her, she went to the Board of Corrections, but no one in the corrections office helped her. Later, Rawlinson met Pam Horowitz, her lawyer, and after Rawlinson told her story about the corrections facilities, Horowitz took her case. Horowitz, at the time, was also helping Brenda Mieth, another woman from Montgomery, who was turned down because of her sex by Colonel Dothard to work in highway patrol (Gillian 36).
Horowitz, Mieth, and Rawlinson filed for their lawsuit in December 1975 because Dothard refused Mieth and Rawlinson a position in the Alabama corrections department based on their sex. Dothard believed that law enforcement was too dangerous for women and because of this, Alabama created Regulation 204 in February 1976. Regulation 204 stated that if women were tall enough or weighed enough as a correctional counselor, she could not work in the state’s maximum security prisons where they encountered male inmates (Gillian 41). Because of Regulation 204, women were often placed in lower-status and lower-paid roles. Thus, that was why women only made up 2.7 percent of police officers and 6 percent of correctional officers (Gillian 37).
Rawlinson did not want a softer position in the Alabama correctional department because of her sexuality. Rawlinson fought back against Regulation 204 because it violated Title VII. Frost-Knappman and Cullen-DuPont stated that “Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, known as the Equal Employment Opportunity section, forbids discrimination by private employers, employment agencies, and unions on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex” (Frost-Knappman and Cullen-DuPont 399). Horowitz used Regulation 204 to show that it was violating Title VII because it prevented someone from having a job because of their sex (Dothard v. Rawlinson). Horowitz claimed that women’s job opportunities were limited by height and weight restrictions by regulation 204 (Frost-Knappman and Cullen-DuPont 399)
The regulations on height and weight in the correctional department prevented female advancement in the workplace. Bloch, a worker from the Urban institute, defended Rawlinson and stated that height had no effect on the performance of the police officers job (Gillian 46). Justice Stewart also shared that there was no evidence to back up that height and weight correlated with strength (Dothard v. Rawlinson). Bloch and Stewart agreed that Rawlinson should have received the job as a correctional counselor or prison guard because her height and weight had nothing to do with how well she performed the job. On June 28, 1976, The court was in favor of the women (Gillian 48).
Rawlinson argued in court that her rights to a job were being violated because of her sex. Dothard prevented female growth into the correctional department because he believed that women were not capable of the job. Rawlinson showed the systemic injustice within the correctional department and opened the doors to all women who wanted a job in law. Because of Rawlinson, the correctional department can not turn away someone from a job because of their sex.
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