The Corpus Christi, Tex. Police Department has found itself on the business end of a civil rights lawsuit after the Justice Department concluded that a physical ability test used when considering job applications discriminates against women.
As a condition for employment, new applicants must pass a physical ability test (PAT) involving: pullups, a 300-meter run, a 1.5 mile run, and sit-ups. Only 19 percent of female applicants passed this test between 2005 and 2009, compared to 63 percent of men, the DOJ complaint records.
The Justice Department says that the test discriminates against women because “use of the PAT in the screening and selection of applicants for entry-level police officer jobs is not job-related, for the entry-level police officer position,” according to the complaint.
“The Justice Department is looking forward to working with the city to resolve this matter in a way that eliminates the use of the unlawful physical ability test and gives women who were screened out of the process an opportunity to become Corpus Christi police officers,” Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, said in a statement on the lawsuit.
“If women had passed the PAT at the same rate as men, approximately 62 additional women would have been available for further consideration for the position of entry-level police officer,” the Justice Department complaint also says.
In 2011, the city police modified the benchmarks for the PAT. Thirty-three percent of women passed the test under the new standards, along with 82 percent of men. DOJ says that these results also indicate discrimination.