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Job qualifications at heart of ruling on hiring of locksmiths

Job qualifications at heart of ruling on hiring of locksmiths

PHILADELPHIA—A woman who does not meet the qualifications for a job may sue for sexual discrimination for being denied a promotion if the successful male applicant also does not meet the job's qualifications, a federal appeals court has ruled.

The unanimous decision by a three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia in Judy Scheidemantle vs. Slippery Rock University State System of Higher Education has returned the case to a lower court for further proceedings.

According to court documents, Ms. Scheidemantle was passed over twice for promotion to a locksmith position. In both cases, the males hired for the job also lacked the experience requested in the advertisement.

While the district court accepted the university's argument--that Ms. Scheidemantle could not pursue a sexual discrimination claim because she lacked objective qualifications for the job--and granted a summary judgment dismissing the case, the appellate panel disagreed in its Dec. 19 ruling.

"Because Slippery Rock placed similarly 'unqualified' males in the locksmith position, it could no longer point to the job posting's objective qualifications as valid reason for refusing to promote Scheidemantle," the appeals panel ruled.

In a long footnote, the ruling also said "the record before us suggests that the university has a history of failing to provide women with opportunities for locksmith training."

Attorneys in the case could not be reached for comment.

Judy Scheidemantle, appellant vs. Slippery Rock University State System of Higher Education, 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 05-3850, Dec. 19.