JOHNSON, District Judge:
This appeal and cross-appeal present important unsettled questions concerning the proper interpretation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 2000e et seq. Mrs. Lorena W. Weeks brought this suit against her
The record reveals that Mrs. Weeks submitted her bid for the job of switchman on March 17, 1966. On April 18, 1966, the Company returned her bid with a letter advising her that it had decided not to assign women to the switchman's job. On June 2, 1966, Mrs. Weeks filed a written but unsworn charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (hereinafter the Commission). A representative of the Commission secured a sworn charge from Mrs. Weeks on July 30, 1966. After investigation of the facts and analysis of the duties of the position of switchman, the Commission decided that there was reasonable cause to believe that the Company had violated the Act. Mrs. Weeks was informed on April 19, 1967, that conciliation efforts with Southern Bell had failed and that she had 30 days within which to file suit. As authorized by Section 2000e-5(e) of the Act, the District Court relieved Mrs. Weeks of the payment of costs and appointed counsel for her. Counsel filed suit on her behalf on May 18, 1967.
The Company moved to dismiss or in the alternative for summary judgment on the theory that since the alleged unlawful practice occurred on April 18, 1966, and a sworn charge was not filed with the Commission until July 30, 1966, the requirements of Section 2000e-5(a) and (d)
The District Court, in effect, sustained the validity of a Commission regulation which permits amendments to the charge more than 90 days after the unlawful practice, in this case on July 30, 1966. 29 C.F.R. 1601.11(b) provides:
The Commission has filed a brief amicus curiae urging that we sustain the regulation and affirm the District Court's holding on this point.
The only case supporting the Company's contention, Choate v. Caterpillar Tractor Co., 274 F.Supp. 776 (S.D.Ill.
We agree with the Seventh Circuit and with the Commission that a complaint in writing timely received may be amended after the 90-day period so as to meet the requirements of 42 U. S.C. Sec. 2000e-5(a).
What Chief Judge Brown, speaking for this circuit, expressed in a similar context seems relevant here:
Finally, while we think it is clear that the purpose of certain of the procedural requirements of Section 2000e-5 is to protect employers from unfounded charges and harassment, it is equally clear that the employer here was in no way bothered or prejudiced by the unsworn charge and that the employer did receive the protection envisaged by Congress. In its amicus brief the Commission makes clear that under its procedures unsworn charges are not served upon respondents and that the investigation does not commence until a sworn charge is served. On this question, the District Court is affirmed.
Turning to the merits we observe that there is no dispute that Mrs. Weeks was denied the switchman's job because she was a woman, not because she lacked any qualifications as an individual. The job was awarded to the only other bidder for the job, a man who had less seniority than Mrs. Weeks. Under the terms of the contract between Mrs. Weeks' Union and Southern Bell, the senior bidder is to be awarded the job if other qualifications are met. Southern Bell, in effect, admits a prima facie violation
Southern Bell's answer, however, asserts by way of affirmative defense that the switchman's position fits within the exception to the general prohibition of discrimination against women set forth in Section 703(e) (1), 42 U.S.C. Sec. 2000e-2(e) (1), which provides in pertinent part:
The job description of the post of switchman reads as follows:
We think it is clear that the burden of proof must be on Southern Bell to demonstrate that this position fits within the "bona fide occupational qualification" exception. The legislative history indicates that this exception was intended to be narrowly construed.
The more important question that must be decided here, however, is the extent of the showing required to satisfy that burden. In the court below, Southern Bell contended that a bona fide occupational qualification was created whenever reasonable state protective legislation prevented women from occupying certain positions. Southern Bell relied upon Rule 59, promulgated by the Georgia Commissioner of Labor pursuant to Section 54-122(d) of the Georgia Code, which provides:
The Commission has recognized that reasonable state protective legislation may constitute a bona fide occupational qualification. Thus, Section 1604.1(3) of the Commission's guidelines provides:
Mrs. Weeks does not dispute on appeal that the position of switchman occasionally requires lifting of weights in excess of 30 pounds. She has consistently contended that the Georgia limit is unreasonably low and that the Georgia Commissioner of Labor's Rule 59 does not have the intent or effect of protecting women from hazard. She also contends that the rule is arbitrary in violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and that it is contrary to Title VII and thus in violation of the supremacy clause, article 6, clause 2 of the Constitution. In this regard, it may be noted that a United States District Court has recently held that provisions of the California Labor Code restricting lifting by women to weights of 25 pounds and under is a restriction set at an unreasonably low level within the meaning of the Commission's guidelines and that even if 25 pounds did not constitute an unreasonably low level within the meaning of those guidelines, such restrictions are still contrary to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and must yield. Rosenfeld v. Southern Pacific Co., 293 F.Supp. 1219 (C.D.Cal. Nov. 22, 1968). In that case the Commission appeared as amicus curiae and urged the result reached by the District Court on the basis that there was an irreconcilable conflict between federal and state law which required invalidation of the state law under the supremacy clause.
We need not decide the reasonableness or the constitutionality of Rule 59, however, because effective August 27, 1968, Georgia repealed Rule 59. In its place, the Georgia Commissioner of Labor has promulgated a rule which reads:
The decision to repeal the specific weight limit seems to have been at least partially motivated by, and is in conformity with, the recommendations of the Task Force on Labor Standards of the Citizens' Advisory Council on the Status of Women. The President's Commission pointed out:
Because the new, flexible rule does not in terms necessarily prevent all women from performing the duties of switchman, the issue of protective state legislation disappears from the case. We are left with the question whether Southern Bell, as a private employer, has satisfied its burden of proving that the particular requirements of the job of switchman justify excluding women from consideration.
In ruling for Southern Bell, the District Court relied primarily on the effect of Rule 59. It did, however, make some additional findings of fact which Southern
Southern Bell puts principal reliance on the fact that the District Court found the job to be "strenuous." That finding is extremely vague. We note, moreover, that Southern Bell introduced no evidence that the duties of a switchman were so strenuous that all, or substantially all, women would be unable to perform them. Nor did the District Court make a finding on this more concrete and meaningful statement of the issue. The Commission in its investigation, on the other hand, rejected Southern Bell's contention "that the switchman job at this location requires weight lifting or strenuous exertion which could not be performed by females." In addition, Mrs. Weeks produced testimony to the effect that she was capable of performing the job, that a woman in New York had been hired as a switchman and that seven others were performing the job of frameman, the duties of which were essentially indistinguishable from those of a switchman.
In examining the record carefully to interpret the finding that the duties of a switchman were "strenuous," we have observed that although Southern Bell attempted to connect a switchman's duties with various pieces of heavy equipment, only a 31-pound item called a "relay timing test set" was used "regularly and routinely" by a switchman. The testimony at trial and the Commission's investigation reveal that in actually using the set the normally accepted practice is to place the test set on the floor or on a rolling step-ladder and that very little lifting of it was required. Thus, while there would be a basis for finding that a switchman's job would require lifting technically in excess of a 30-pound weight limitation, the infrequency of the required lifting would permit quibbling over just how "strenuous" the job is. But we do not believe courts need engage in this sort of quibbling. Labeling a job "strenuous" simply does not meet the burden of proving that the job is within the bona fide occupational qualification exception.
Southern Bell also may be taken as contending that it has simply applied its own 30-pound weight limitation and that a reasonable privately-imposed weight limitation fits within the exception. In this contention, Southern Bell relies heavily on the broad construction of the exception adopted in Bowe v. Colgate-Palmolive Co., 272 F.Supp. 332 (S.D. Ind.1967). In holding a privately-imposed 35-pound weight limitation within the exception, Judge Steckler stated:
As indicated above, the Commission appeared in Rosenfeld v. Southern Pacific Co., supra, to urge that the California weight limitation legislation be struck down. In so doing, the Commission successfully contended that this broad construction of the bona fide occupational qualification exception should not be followed. The Commission's amicus brief there stated that it has consistently interpreted its regulations as being incompatible with the idea that privately-imposed weight limitations for
These guidelines are, of course, entitled to considerable weight. As the Supreme Court said in Udall v. Tallman, 380 U.S. 1, 85 S.Ct. 792, 13 L.Ed.2d 616 (1965):
See also United States v. Jefferson County Board of Education, 372 F.2d 836, 847 (5th Cir.1966), cert. denied sub nom, Caddo Parish School Board v. United States, 389 U.S. 840, 88 S.Ct. 67, 19 L.Ed.2d 103.
We agree with the Commission that the broad construction of the bona fide occupational qualification in Bowe v. Colgate-Palmolive Co., supra, is inconsistent with the purpose of the Act — providing a foundation in law for the principle of nondiscrimination.
Southern Bell has clearly not met that burden here. They introduced no evidence concerning the lifting abilities of women. Rather, they would have us "assume," on the basis of a "stereotyped characterization" that few or no
Southern Bell's remaining contentions do not seem to be advanced with great seriousness. The emergency work which a switchman allegedly must perform consists primarily in the handling of a 34-pound extinguisher in the event of fire. A speculative emergency like that could be used as a smoke screen by any employer bent on discriminating against women. It does seem that switchmen are occasionally subject to late hour call-outs. Of course, the record also reveals that other women employees are subject to call after midnight in emergencies. Moreover, Title VII rejects just this type of romantic paternalism as unduly Victorian and instead vests individual women with the power to decide whether or not to take on unromantic tasks. Men have always had the right to determine whether the incremental increase in remuneration for strenuous, dangerous, obnoxious, boring or unromantic tasks is worth the candle. The promise of Title VII is that women are now to be on equal footing. We cannot conclude that by including the bona fide occupational qualification exception Congress intended to renege on that promise.
Having concluded that Southern Bell has not satisfied its burden of proving that the job of switchman is within the bona fide occupational qualification exception, we must reverse the District Court on this issue and hold that Southern Bell has violated 42 U.S.C. Sec. 2000e-2(a). This case is remanded to the District Court for determination of appropriate relief under the provisions of 42 U.S.C. Sec. 2000e-5(g).
Affirmed in part; reversed and remanded in part.
This finding was based on the "highly refined, bizarre, and extraordinarily complex system of seniority and job assignment in effect at the plant." Id. at 356. It may be that where an employer sustains its burden in demonstrating that it is impossible or highly impractical to deal with women on an individualized basis, it may apply a reasonable general rule. No such showing was made here; it seems plain that it could not be.