The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has reached a settlement with the city of Corpus Christi, resolving claims that the city police department’s hiring test violated Title VII.
The DOJ charged that from 2005 to 2011, the Corpus Christi Police Department used a physical abilities test that unlawfully screened out female applicants for entry-level police officer positions.
Title VII prohibits screening tests that are not job-related, consistent with a business necessity or have a disparate impact resulting in discrimination. The DOJ alleged the police department’s physical abilities test did not properly evaluate whether a candidate could perform job duties.
The proposed consent decree requires Corpus Christi to replace the physical abilities test with a new selection procedure that complies with Title VII. In addition, the city must pay $700,000 in back pay to otherwise eligible female applicants who failed the physical abilities test and offer priority employment (with retroactive seniority and benefits) to any of those who are interested. Applicants, however, must still pass the new, lawful selection procedure.
Note: Pre-employment tests must actually test the applicant’s ability to perform a job’s essential functions to meet the “job-related” and “of business necessity” requirements. If you use tests that screen out protected classes in disproportionate numbers, determine if a less discriminatory method will achieve your goals.