EEOC Wins Sex Discrimination Suit Against The Dial Corporation

February 8, 2005 ( - The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has won a suit brought against The Dial Corporation that alleged that a pre-employment strength test discriminated against females.

>Chief Judge Ronald Longstaff of the US District Court for Southern Iowa has ruled that the “work tolerance test” at the company’s meat packing plant in Fort Madison, Iowa was not necessary for performance of entry-level jobs, and thus discriminated against females, according to a  news release  from the EEOC. The test was passed by 97% of men and fewer than 40% of women, and Dial failed to prove that it was necessary, according to the agency. More specifically, Longstaff said that the test violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

>Implemented in January 2000, the strength test was put in place to make sure fewer people were injured, according to the company. Before the test was instituted, almost half of those hired by the sausage plant were women, even though the job was physically demanding and required lifting heavy boxes. Longstaff ruled that because women could perform the job before the test was instituted and because the test was harder than the job itself, it was illegitimately put in place.

>Longstaff also approved the finding of a jury which had ruled that Dial’s use of the test was intentionally discriminatory against women. He will now consider an appropriate level of relief for about 50 women who had been rejected from the job based on the test.

>The case was brought in 2002 by the EEOC based on charges filed by Paula Liles, who applied for a position at the company after the test was put in place. Liles failed the test because of her height – she had to go on her toes to complete a lift – and thus failed to garner a position at the company despite doing similar work in the past, according to the news release.