Women Denied Partnerships: From Hishon to Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins
47 Pages Posted: 26 Oct 2009
Date Written: October 26, 1990
This article reviews the seminal Supreme Court decision governing access to partnership status in professional settings in the context of a sex discrimination challenge. As women entered the workforce in record numbers, they thrived against the backdrop of the 1964 Civil Rights Acts. There were still obstacles however, to the complete participation of women in the workforce one generation later. Although legal precedent existed for the equal treatment of women in low and middle management jobs, this was not the case for women seeking executive and partner-level jobs. The Supreme Court considered this issue in the case, Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins. In a plurality decision, the Court struggled with enunciating a coherent paradigm for deciding what is and what is not permissible to consider in partnership decisions, and this lack of clarity is discussed in detail. It is important though, to understand that the Hopkins case reflects the all-too-common reality of a woman's questioning the legitimacy of a partnership decision, and subsequently, our society's struggle with appropriate factors of admission to partnership. Hopkins raises issues, and that perhaps the next generation will be better equipped to resolve these issues.
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