Yesterday, the Department of Justice filed suit against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania State Police alleging that because more men than women pass the PSP’s physical fitness tests, their use is discriminatory and violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Complaint, filed in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, docket no. 1:14-cv-01474-SHR (which would suggest that it has been assigned to Federal District Judge Sylvia H. Rambo), was filed on July 29, 2014 and a copy of which can be downloaded – here.
The DOJ contends in the Complaint that because female applicants failed the 2003 physical fitness test and the revised 2009 test at “statistically higher rates than male applicants, female applicants were less likely to proceed through the selection process and thus less likely to be hired as entry-level troopers.” The Complaint alleges that from 2003 through 2008, the Pennsylvania State Police used a physical fitness test consisting of:
- a 300-meter run;
- a vertical jump; and
- a 1.5-mile run.
In order for the applicant to continue in the selection process, he/she were required to pass each event. From 2003-2008, approximately 94 percent of male applicants passed the test, while only 71 percent of female applicants passed. When the test was revised in 2009, between 2009 and 2012, approximately 98 percent of male applicants passed the revised test, while approximately 72 percent of female applicants passed. This, the DOJ contends, is “statistically significant.”
The DOJ seeks a court order that would require the PSP to:
- stop using the challenged physical fitness tests;
- develop hiring procedures that comply with Title VII; and
- compensate individual women who have been harmed as a result of the defendants’ use of the challenged physical fitness tests, including back pay with interest, offers of employment, retroactive seniority, and “other benefits to women who have suffered losses or will suffer losses as a result of the discriminatory policies and practices.
Am I the only one who is concerned by this? Last time I checked, PSP Troopers had to perfect arrests (including pursuing fleeing suspects, subduing resisting suspects and forcibly arresting suspects, where necessary) and be in proper physical condition to save the lives of fellow troopers and officers, as well as innocents. I guess the next lawsuit brought by the DOJ will be under the Americans with Disabilities Act alleging that the PSP is discriminating against those wheelchair bound applicants because they cannot perfect arrests…..When lives are on the line, strict physical testing is necessary. Regardless of gender, if you can’t carry a fellow trooper/officer to safety, pursue a suspect for a mile or subdue a resisting suspect, you shouldn’t be employed in a law enforcement capacity that requires such physical fitness.