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A federal appeals court has reinstated a lawsuit challenging the San Francisco Sheriff's Department's policy of forbidding male guards to work in the women's jail.

The San Francisco Chronicle says a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that the policy constituted sex discrimination which the city had failed to demonstrate was absolutely necessary.

The 9th Circuit decision overruled the finding of a federal judge who dismissed the lawsuit after finding that excluding male guards made sense as a way to protect the safety and privacy of female inmates.

The policy was adopted in 2006. The Chronicle says the 35 guards who sued the next year included women who alleged it had increased their work loads and men who said it cost them overtime and possible promotions.

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