The woman, who was only identified as A-C.N., had applied for available jobs at three different Volvo factories in October 2002. In her application form, she revealed that she measured 159.7 centimeters (5 feet 2 inches).
In the company’s reply letter it stated that she did not fulfil the height requirements at the three factories of at least 163 centimeters.
“The height requirement that the company uses is a typical example of a criteria that appears to be neutral but that in practice discriminates against women,” the labour court ruled on Wednesday.
The court pointed out that the rule “means that 28.2 percent of the female workforce (in Sweden) is blocked from working in the company’s factories (while) for men the number is less than one percent”.
Volvo had claimed that the height requirement was necessary since shorter people tend to suffer more work injuries, but the court insisted that the requirement that all workers measure at least 163 centimeters “is not an appropriate requirement”.
“There is some connection between height and the risk of work-related injuries, but it is unclear how strong the link is (and) it is unclear at which height a height requirement would be appropriate,” the court said.
The court sentenced Volvo, which is a subsidiary of US car maker Ford, to pay the woman 200,000 kronor (26,200 dollars).
Volvo has appealed against the ruling.