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Justice Department Settles Employment Discrimination Lawsuit Against the City of Virginia Beach, Virginia Police Department

WASHINGTON—The Justice Department today announced the filing of a lawsuit, along with a simultaneous filing of a proposed consent decree, against the City of Virginia Beach, Va, to resolve the Department’s allegations that the city’s hiring practices for entry-level police officers have an unlawful disparate impact on African American and Hispanic applicants.

“This agreement serves the important goal of hiring qualified police officers in full compliance with the law,” said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “We applaud the City of Virginia Beach for working cooperatively with us to make certain that qualified applicants who can well perform the job’s important public safety mission will not be unfairly screened out because of unnecessary job requirements.”

The consent decree was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, together with a complaint alleging that the city’s hiring practices had a disparate impact on African-Americans and Hispanics in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000 et sec. Title VII prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Title VII’s prohibitions extend to neutral hiring or employment practices that result in disparate or unequal impact on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin and that are not “job-related” as defined by the law.

The complaint alleges that the City of Virginia Beach violated Title VII by using a mathematics test as a pass/fail screening device in its selection process for entry-level police officers. According to the complaint, the city’s pass/fail use of the mathematics test was not job-related because it did not predict whether an applicant was able to successfully perform the job of police officer. The city's use of the test, however, resulted in a disparate impact on African-American and Hispanic job applicants. The Justice Department did not challenge any other parts of the police department’s entry-level police officer selection process.

The city cooperated fully in the Justice Department’s investigation, which began in 2004, and worked with the Department to reach a mutually agreeable settlement.

If the consent decree is approved by the court, the City of Virginia Beach will provide a total of $160,000 to qualified African-Americans and Hispanics who have applied for entry-level police officer positions with the Virginia Beach Police Department and who would have been otherwise qualified to be hired as police officers but for their score on the mathematics test. The city also will provide priority job offers for African-American and Hispanic applicants who are qualified for the job but were screened out solely because of their performance on the mathematics test. In addition, the city agreed that it will not use the mathematics test as a pass/fail screening device.

The continued enforcement of Title VII has been a priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division is available at