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EU top court rules height requirements for police discriminate against women

[JURIST] The European Court of Justice (ECJ) [official website] ruled [judgment] Wednesday that Greek police cannot enforce a blanket height requirement for police recruits because such a policy discriminates against women.

Prior to Wednesday's ruling, Greece enforced a minimum height requirement of 1.7 meters (5 feet 7 inches) for entry into the police academy. In 2007, Marie-Eleni Kalliri, who is 1.68 meters tall, was denied enrollment to the police academy because she did not meet the height requirement. She then filed a complaint arguing that she was discriminated against on the basis of sex. The ECJ agreed, ruling:

In the present case, the referring court itself found in its decision that a much larger number of women than men are of a height of less than 1.70m, such that, by the application of that law, women are very clearly at a disadvantage compared with men as regards admission to the competition for entry to the Greek Officers' School and School for Policemen. It follows that the law at issue in the main proceedings constitutes indirect discrimination.
The court said there can be exceptions if there is a "legitimate objective" in carrying out police operations and the means of obtaining that aim are "appropriate and necessary to achieve that legitimate objective."

While the court acknowledged that it is important for police to be physically fit, it stated that being physically fit is not necessarily linked with height. The court suggested that the academy implement "measures that were less disadvantageous to women, such as a preselection of candidates ... based on specific tests allowing their physical ability to be assessed."

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