WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today filed a lawsuit against the city of Corpus Christi, Texas, alleging that the city’s police department engaged in a pattern or practice of employment discrimination against women in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The lawsuit challenges the police department’s use of a physical ability test for the hiring of entry-level police officers. According to the complaint, the physical test used by the city between 2005 and 2011 had the effect of excluding qualified women from consideration for hire as entry-level police officers and did not screen candidates for job-related skills.
Title VII prohibits employment practices that result in a disparate impact on various bases, including sex, unless the employer can prove that such practices really test for what the job requires. The complaint alleges that the challenged physical ability test does not meet this standard and, thus, qualified women have been unnecessarily kept out of entry-level police officer jobs.
“This complaint demonstrates that employment practices that unnecessarily exclude qualified candidates on account of sex are unacceptable,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department is looking forward to working with the city to resolve this matter in a way that eliminates the use of the unlawful physical ability test and gives women who were screened out of the process an opportunity to become Corpus Christi police officers.”
In the lawsuit, the Justice Department seeks a court order that would require the city to stop using the challenged physical ability test, develop hiring procedures that comply with Title VII and provide relief that makes victims whole, including offers of hire, retroactive seniority and back pay to individual women who have been harmed as a result of the city’s use of the test.
Additional information about Title VII and other federal employment laws is available on the Civil Rights Division’s website at www.justice.gov/crt/.