The European Court of Justice has held that a minimum height requirement to enter the Greek police was indirectly discriminatory against women and could not be objectively justified.
Greek law requires candidates who wish to enter police school to train as officers to be a minimum height of 1.7 metres tall, without shoes.
An applicant was rejected as she was only 1.68 metres tall. She presented a complaint to the Greek Court of Appeal who held that the requirement was contrary to the constitutional principle of equality of the sexes.
A subsequent appeal was put on hold and the European Court of Justice was asked to clarify whether the minimum height requirement was compatible with the European equality law.
The European Court of Justice held that the minimum height requirement constituted indirect sex discrimination that was not objectively justified.
Minimum height requirement could not be justified
It accepted that the aim relied on by the Greek government, of enabling the effective accomplishment of the various functions of the police force was a legitimate aim. However, the height requirement was not a proportionate means of achieving that aim because:
- Not all police functions required the use of significant physical force or the use of particular physical aptitude.
- Even if all the functions carried out by the Greek police required a particular physical aptitude, physical aptitude is not necessarily connected with being over a certain height.
- Until 2003, Greek law required women to be a minimum height of 1.65 metres to enter the police, and men 1.7 metres. The minimum height requirement for women to enter the Greek armed forces, port police and coast guard was only 1.6 metres.
- The legitimate aim could be achieved by measures that were less disadvantageous to women, such as carrying out pre-selection aptitude tests allowing their physical ability to be assessed.
Case reference: Esoterikon v Kalliri