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The Department of Justice announced today that it has reached a settlement agreement to resolve allegations that Lubbock, Texas, engaged in a pattern or practice of employment discrimination against Hispanic and female applicants for probationary police officer positions with the Lubbock Police Department, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In a joint motion filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, the Justice Department and the city of Lubbock asked the court to enter a provisional order that sets out the terms of the settlement agreement. Under the proposed settlement agreement, which is subject to court approval, Lubbock will develop a new written test and a new physical fitness test for selecting probationary police officers and provide hiring relief with retroactive seniority to 11 qualified Hispanic applicants and 13 qualified female applicants who were disqualified by the challenged employment tests. In addition to hiring relief for the 24 qualified applicants, Lubbock will also pay a total of $725,000 to any eligible Hispanic and female applicants who were disqualified by the challenged employment tests. The motion also asks the court to schedule a fairness hearing, an opportunity provided by Title VII for those affected by the proposed agreement to comment on the settlement.
The proposed settlement agreement will resolve the complaint filed by the Justice Department on Dec. 2, 2015. In its complaint, the Justice Department alleged that Lubbock’s use of its written test and physical fitness test violated Title VII by disproportionately screening out, respectively, Hispanic and female applicants for the probationary police officer position without meaningfully distinguishing between applicants who can and cannot perform the job. Title VII prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin or religion, whether the discrimination is intentional or involves the use of employment practices that have a disparate impact and are not job related and consistent with business necessity.
“Unnecessary barriers that keep qualified Hispanic and female applicants from obtaining public safety jobs violate the law and hurt our communities,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice commends the city of Lubbock and the Lubbock Police Department for working to adopt new hiring procedures that comply with Title VII and to provide relief to those applicants harmed by the city’s previous hiring practices.”
The case was brought by Trial Attorneys Hector Ruiz, Karen Ruckert, Jennifer Swedish and Alisa Philo of the Civil Rights Division’s Employment Litigation Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann E. Cruce-Haag of the Northern District of Texas. Enforcement of federal employment discrimination laws is a top priority for the Justice Department. Additional information about Title VII and other federal employment laws is available on the Civil Rights Division’s website at www.justice.gov/crt.