The police department in Corpus Christi, Texas has been accused of discriminating against female applicants, according to a federal lawsuit filed on Tuesday. The lawsuit claims that female applicants are required to pass a physical test that favors men. According to the Justice Department, the pass rate for females who took the test was 80 percent lower than that of the male pass rate. The test was used from 2005 to 2011. The Justice Department also said that the test excludes candidates who are otherwise qualified for the job of entry-level police officers because of their gender.
The test was comprised of sit-ups, push-ups and a 300-meter and a 1.5-mile run. The test used identical cutoff scores for both men and women. From 2005 to 2009, just 19 percent of the women who took the test passed it. This passing rate is compared to the 63 percent of males who took the test from the same time period, according to the Justice Department.
The lawsuit says that the results “constitute a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment by women of their rights to equal employment opportunities regardless of their sex.”
The federal government wants Corpus Christi to stop using the test and to create hiring procedures that comply with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The government also wants Corpus Christi to hire some of the women that have been shot down for the job and to offer them retroactive seniority and back pay. The lawsuit was filed following a probe of the city’s hiring practices that lasted two and a half years and was conducted by the Justice Department. The city’s current assistant city manager and former police chief, Troy Riggs, said that the city cooperated with the investigation and was planning to follow and decree issued by the court.
“We have never disagreed with the Department of Justice,” Riggs said. “We believe its correct for them to be looking at us and that the city has failed in some respects in the past. We’ve been wrong. When we get a consent decree, we’ll live by it.”
Riggs went on to say that the city attempted to increase its efforts to recruit female officers while the investigation was taking place. Riggs said that the recruitment process was a success. In 2011, 18 officers graduated from the city’s police academy. Riggs said that three of those graduates were women. Riggs said that the national average is 13 percent and those three came in at 16.6 percent of the class. The Corpus Christi police department employs 450 uniformed officers and 300 support staff.