By Amy E. Feldman
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – How can a test to see if you qualify for a job be discriminatory if everyone has to live up to exactly the same standards?
The Justice Department sued the Pennsylvania State Police last month over the physical fitness tests it gives to state trooper applicants.
According to the lawsuit, virtually all of the male applicants pass the test, which requires applicants to run 1 and a half miles in 17 minutes and do 13 push-ups, while about 30% of female applicants fail it.
Is a test, applied equally to everyone, against the law just because it affects one group differently? Sometimes.
If the test is directly related to the job duties, say eating donuts in a squad car – I’m kidding. And I’m totally not driving a Nissan Altima right now troopers – then it’s an occupational job qualification and it is legal. A trucking company couldn’t be sued for a pre-employment eye exam, for example, just because it eliminates the blind.
But, if the test has little to do with the actual job, say, requiring factory assembly line workers to have a high school diploma which rules out minority candidates at a higher rate, then it’s not legal even though it’s evenly applied.
The state of Pennsylvania argues that the test is directly related to the job. The Justice Department is waiting to see proof of the number of pushups an entry level trooper does in a day.