Pennsylvania Sued by US over Police Fitness Tests

CBS Philadelphia, July 29, 2014

The federal government sued Pennsylvania on Tuesday over physical fitness tests given to applicants for state trooper positions, seeking a stop to a practice that it said illegally discriminates against women.

The Justice Department’s 10-page lawsuit was filed in federal court in Harrisburg. {snip}

The Pennsylvania State Police is one of the nation’s largest police forces. With 4,677 sworn members, it provides protection to much of Pennsylvania.

The lawsuit said the use of the tests to screen and select the applicants for the entry-level positions amounted to a pattern of employment discrimination. Much greater percentages of male applicants than female applicants passed the physical fitness tests going back to 2003, it said.

As a result, the state police had failed to hire dozens of women for entry-level trooper positions on an equal basis with men, it said.

Had female applicants passed the test at the same rate as men between 2003 and 2012, approximately 119 additional women would have merited further consideration for the jobs and approximately 45 more would have been hired as entry-level troopers, the Justice Department said.

The practice violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and does not qualify under the law as a business necessity, it said.

{snip}

According to state police, the current standards are as follows: 300 meter run: 77 seconds; pushups: 13 (no time limit); vertical jump: 14 inches; 1.5 mile run: 17 minutes, 48 seconds; agility run: 23.5 seconds.

From 2003 to 2008, 94 percent of male applicants passed the fitness test, while 71 percent of female applicants passed. {snip}

The Justice Department sued the city of Corpus Christi, Texas, in 2012, with similar allegations. The city settled the lawsuit last year, approving a $700,000 settlement for female police applicants who had failed the test. {snip}

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