The Justice Department on Tuesday announced it is suing the state of Pennsylvania over alleged gender discrimination in hiring entry-level state troopers.
The department alleges that the physical fitness test used since 2003 disproportionately disadvantaged female applicants, arguing in a filing that the state and state police “used and continue to use policies and practices that discriminate against women and that deprive or tend to deprive women of employment opportunities because of their sex.”
From 2003 to 2008, applicants for an entry-level trooper position had to successfully pass tests that included a 300-meter run, sit-ups, push-ups, a vertical jump and a 1.5-mile run. About 94 percent of men passed that test, while only 71 percent of women could say the same. That difference, the Justice Department alleges, is statistically significant. Since 2009, the state has administered a modified version of that test and 98 percent of men passed it while only 72 percent of women did. Again, that was a statistically significant difference.
“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 Civil Rights Division, said in a statement. “The Justice Department will continue to challenge discriminatory hiring practices that unnecessarily exclude qualified applicants on account of sex.”
If women had passed the tests at the same rate as men, 119 could have been given further consideration and 45 would have been hired as entry-level troopers, the Justice Department estimates.