EU Court ruled: minimum height requirements for Police discriminate against women

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) recently has ruled, in Greek case, that minimum height requirements for recruits aiming for enrollment in police for all candidates “constitutes indirect sex discrimination since it works to the disadvantage of far more women than men.”.

According to Greek Presidential decree a minimum requirement of 1.7 meters for entry into the police academy is laid down. In 2007, Marie-Eleni Kalliri submitted an application to participate in the competition but she was denied enrollment to the police academy on the ground that she was not of the minimum height of 1.70 m, since she was only 1.68 m tall.

Later, she submitted a complaint to the national Court arguing that she was discriminated on the basis of sex.

The Greek Government argued that the aim of the law is to ensure the effective execution of the police tasks and the possession of some particular physical attributes, such as a minimum height is a necessary and appropriate condition for achieving that aim.

ECJ said that objective pursued by law aiming to ensure the operational capacity and proper functioning of the police services constitutes a legitimate objective. In the same time, it must be set out in law that minimum height requirement is suitable for the attainment of the objective of the law “and does not go beyond what is necessary” in order to attain it.

ECJ suggested that is true that the police functions involving the protection of persons and goods, the arrest and custody of offenders and the conduct of crime prevention patrols may require the use of physical force requiring a particular physical aptitude, but not all police functions, such as providing assistance to citizens or traffic control, do not clearly require the use of significant physical force.

The ECJ found that “indirect discrimination arises where a national measure works to the disadvantage of far more women than men. The Court said that a “much larger number of women than men are of a height of less than 1.70m”, so 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 Police Academy, and that “law does not appear to be either appropriate or necessary to achieve the legitimate objective that it pursues”.



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