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Harper v. Trans World Airlines

525 F.2d 409 (1975)

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Harper v. Trans World Airlines

United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

525 F.2d 409 (1975)

Facts

Donna Harper (plaintiff) was employed by Trans World Airlines (the airline) (defendant) as a part-time sales agent in the St. Louis division beginning in 1969. The airline had a policy that prohibited married couples from working together in the same department. In the event coworkers got married, they had 30 days to decide which spouse would transfer to another department or terminate employment. If the couple did not make the decision voluntarily, the less senior spouse would be discharged. In 1971, Harper married John Harper, who had worked in the same department since 1967. The couple did not make a voluntary election as to which spouse would transfer or terminate employment, so Harper was terminated because she had less seniority. Prior to Harper’s termination, five other married couples had the policy applied to them, and in four cases the wife terminated employment. There was no evidence that the airline discriminated against women in hiring, compensation, or otherwise. The evidence reflected that women filled 53 percent of the highest-earning positions and comprised a large majority of the workforce at the St. Louis division. Harper sued the airline for sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. After a nonjury trial, the district court entered judgment for the airline. Harper appealed. Harper argued that the policy would result in the discharge of more women than men because wives would have greater incentive to leave their jobs due to lower incomes and fewer promotional opportunities.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Gibson, C.J.)

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