Justice Department Announces $2.2 Million Settlement of Sex Discrimination Lawsuit Against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania State Police
(STL.News) The Justice Department announced today that it has reached a settlement, through a court-supervised settlement agreement, with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) resolving the United States’ claims that PSP’s use of physical tests as part of the entry-level hiring process for state troopers resulted in a pattern or practice of employment discrimination against women, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Title VII is a federal law that prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. The suit alleged that PSP violated Title VII beginning as early as May 14, 2003, by administering physical tests that assessed physical skills not required to perform the job and that disproportionately excluded female applicants.
“Employers cannot impose selection criteria that unfairly screen out qualified female applicants,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela S. Karlan of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “When the Pennsylvania State Police use a physical fitness test as part of the process for choosing state troopers, they must ensure that the test complies with federal law. This settlement agreement reflects the Civil Rights Division’s continued commitment to removing artificial barriers that prevent women from becoming law enforcement officers.”
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, subject to court approval, PSP will pay $2,200,000 million into a settlement fund that will be used to compensate those women who were harmed by the employment practices challenged by the United States. The agreement also requires PSP to offer priority hiring relief, with retroactive seniority, for up to 65 women for entry-level state trooper jobs. All priority hiring candidates must meet the employer’s lawful selection criteria, including the successful passing of any physical fitness test that meets the requirements of Title VII.
In a joint filing today in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, the parties moved for a court order provisionally approving the terms of the settlement agreement. The motion also asks the court to schedule a fairness hearing to provide an opportunity for individuals potentially affected by the proposed agreement to provide comments on the terms of the settlement. The proposed settlement, once approved by the District Court, will resolve the United States’ complaint filed on July 29, 2014.