Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Pennsylvania sued by U.S. over police fitness tests

HARRISBURG - 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 that the agency's lawyers had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment on it.

The Pennsylvania State Police, with 4,677 sworn members, is one of the nation's largest police forces.

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 about 45 more would have been hired, the suit said.

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 cutoff 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 from 2009 through 2012, 98 percent of male applicants passed, while 72 percent of female applicants passed, the lawsuit said.

Marc Levy Associated Press
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