Europe & UK

October 26, 2017

Height bar for police discriminate against women ruled: EU Top Court

European Court of Justice

On October 25, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that Greek police cannot enforce a blanket height requirement for police recruits because such a policy discriminates against women

Greece enforced a minimum height requirement of 1.7 meters (5 feet 7 inches) for entry into the police academy, before the ruling on October 18. In 2007, Marie-Eleni Kalliri, 1.68 meters tall, was barred enrollment to the police academy because she did not fulfill the height requirement. A complaint, arguing that she was discriminated against on the basis of sex was filed by her. 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.

As per the court, exceptions could be there if there is a "legitimate objective" in carrying out police operations and the ways of obtaining that aim are "appropriate and necessary to attain that legitimate objective."

While the court admitted that it is important for police to be physically fit, it stated that being physically fit is not 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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