A Lady's Ruminations

"Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

How Stupid

AP: Volvo Convicted of Gender Discrimination---

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - A Swedish court on Wednesday convicted Volvo Cars of gender discrimination for denying a woman a job at its manufacturing plant because she was too short to work at the conveyor belt.

Sweden's Labor Court ordered Volvo to pay 40,000 kronor ($5,200) to the woman, who was not identified, saying the hiring policy constituted "indirect gender discrimination."

Volvo's hiring policy stated that for safety reasons, employees must be between 5 feet 4 inches and 6 feet 5 inches to work at the conveyor belt at its car manufacturing plant outside Goteborg. The woman only measured 5 feet 3 inches, said Equal Opportunity Ombudsman Claes Borgstrom, who sued Volvo on the woman's behalf.

The court ruled that that statistically, the height requirement excluded more women than men, and should therefore be considered as gender discrimination.

"The consequence (of the ruling) must be that Volvo cannot routinely continue to automatically exclude people who are shorter than 163 centimeters (5 feet 4 inches) from employment," Borgstrom said in a statement. "Instead, they will have to make an individual judgment of the applicants' physical conditions for the job, for example span of reach and muscle strength."

Volvo spokesman Christer Gustafsson said the company will follow the court's ruling and drop the height requirement.

"We will have to look at what we can do to avoid job injuries without the height requirement," Gustafsson said. (emphasis added)
What a ridiculous ruling. Volvo's height requirement is common sense. I imagine that soon someone who was previously outside the height requirement, but who gets a job because of this lawsuit, will sue for some injury sustained by having to reach too high or bend too low. Such injuries were exactly what the height requirement was intended to prevent.

And just because women are generally shorter than men does not mean we should change everything to accomodate women. Pardon me, but I would rather not have a female firefighter attempt to rescue me. I'm 5'11. Sometimes height, strength, and sight requirements, among others, are necessary for the greater good. By attempting to "dumb" down such requirements, we are putting ourselves in danger. Should we require that blind people be allowed to drive public buses? After all, is it fair to restrict them in such a way?

Only someone concerned for the public good has the common sense to say blind people ought not to drive. In the same way, by allowing people outside the former height guidelines to work at the conveyer belts, Volvo is contributing to the dumbing down of common sense and probably more physical ailments. I wonder if the people who are too short or too tall, but acquire Volvo conveyer jobs, will soon be living off the state?

People are so stupid.