Pennsylvania sued by U.S. over police fitness tests
HARRISBURG, Pa. — 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. A spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania State Police said Tuesday evening that the agency's lawyers had not seen the lawsuit yet and could not comment on it.
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.
“The Department of Justice is deeply committed to eliminating artificial barriers that keep qualified women out of public safety work,” Jocelyn Samuels, acting assistant attorney general for the department's civil rights division, said in a statement.
A test begun in 2003 consisted of a 300-meter run, sit-ups, push-ups, a vertical jump and a 1.5-mile run, the lawsuit said. The test carried cut-off scores for each of the five events, and the state police required that applicants pass each event, it said.
From 2003 to 2008, 94 percent of male applicants passed the fitness test, while 71 percent of female applicants passed. Under a similar test administered in 2009 through 2012, 98 percent of male applicants passed, while 72 percent of female applicants passed, the lawsuit said.
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. Corpus Christi police also agreed to stop using the test and hire 18 women who did not pass the test, but were considered eligible to be officers.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pennsylvania slapped with another debt downgrade
- Search team OK’d to kill shooting suspect accused of fatally shooting Pa. trooper
- Pennsylvania teachers sue union over nonmember fee donations
- Gas industry remedies ‘brain drain’ in Western Pennsylvania
- State Dems take back seat to political committee in gubernatorial election
- Police: Barracks ambush suspect sought mass murder
- Ambush suspect’s rifle found
- Comcast cuts showings of anti-pigeon shooting commercial featuring Barker
- Hundreds gather to honor ambushed Pa. officer as search for suspect narrows to parents’ home
- Judge lifts order blocking racy state emails