Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins

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  • Workplace Equality and Economic Empowerment
  • Sex-Based Classification
  • Authored Amicus Brief
1989

Determined the evidence standard for sex discrimination in employment (Title VII) cases, and resolved whether a promotion based on sex stereotyping is in violation of Title VII.

Read about Price Waterhouse Revisited

When Ann Hopkins seeks a partnership at Price Waterhouse, a national accounting firm, she is told to "walk more femininely, talk more femininely, dress more femininely, wear make-up, have her hair styled, and wear jewelry." She is denied the partnership and brings suit. The Supreme Court upholds her suit, with a landmark ruling that employment decisions cannot be based on sex stereotyping, such as that a "woman cannot be aggressive, or that she must not be."

The Supreme Court also held that conventional rules of civil litigation apply in Title VII cases. One of those rules is that parties to civil litigation need only prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence, not by clear and convincing evidence, as the circuit court found. Nearly three decades later, this case is center stage in 2019 Supreme Court deliberations on a case regarding LGBTQ+ rights.