Feds Say Pennsylvania's Police Fitness Tests Discriminate Against Women
The Pennsylvania State Police, one of the nation's largest forces, is faced with ending the physical fitness tests it gives to applicants for state trooper positions or defending in court a practice that the federal government says illegally discriminates against women.
The Justice Department's 10-page lawsuit was filed Tuesday 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.
With 4,677 sworn members, Pennsylvania State Police troopers provide protection for 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.