After a prospective female applicant of 1.68 meters tall filed a suit against the policy of imposing a minimum height restriction for enrolment in Greek police schools, the European Court of Justice held that this was indirect sex discrimination.
The minimum height requirement of 1.7m (about 5 feet 7inches) clearly disadvantaged many more women than men. The legitimate aim of the policy was the effective accomplishment of the various functions of the police force, but other areas of policing, such as providing assistance to citizens or traffic control, did not require the use of particular physical aptitude. Also, a person’s height does not necessarily correspond to his or her physical abilities to carry out certain functions.
Even though the court acknowledged that certain police officers should be physically fit for their positions, this, the judges agreed, was not necessarily connected with being of a certain minimum height. Instead, it was recommended by the court that Greek police implement various measures that were less disadvantageous to women and that the preselecting of candidates should be based on fitness tests.
Also worth noting is that, until 2003, Greek law required different minimum heights for men and for women to enter the police; for women the minimum height was 1.65m, compared with 1.7m for men. Also relevant was that there remained different minimum height requirements for men and women to enter the Greek port police, armed forces and coast guard, where the minimum requirement for women was 1.6m.
Recently, in a similar case in Germany, a regional court ruled that a female police force applicant should not have been rejected due to her height, stating that “the best applicants for a job may only be determined by looking at their abilities and qualifications in their field.”
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