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County of Washington v. Gunther
United States Supreme Court
452 U.S. 161 (1981)
The County of Washington, Oregon (the county) (defendant) paid lower wages to female guards in the county jail than the county paid to male guards. Alberta Gunther and three other female guards (the female guards) (plaintiffs) sued the county, alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). The female guards alleged that (1) they were paid unequal wages for performing work substantially equal to the work of the male guards, and (2) the county had engaged in intentional discrimination in setting the pay scale for female guards at a low level that did not properly value the job. The district court rejected the female guards’ claim that they performed work substantially equal to the work of the male guards after finding that the male guards supervised significantly more prisoners per guard, while the female guards spent more time on clerical duties. The court also dismissed the female guards’ intentional-discrimination claim, holding that sex-based wage-discrimination claims could be brought under Title VII only to seek equal pay for equal work. The appellate court reversed, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Brennan, J.)
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