Feds accused of bullying state over police test
HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania has accused the federal government of browbeating it over the physical fitness tests administered to trooper candidates, insisting it remains committed to recruiting women into the state police force.
The state asked a federal judge in Harrisburg to throw out a lawsuit filed last summer by the Department of Justice. The lawsuit said the use of the fitness tests to screen and select applicants amounts to a pattern of employment discrimination and has illegally kept dozens of otherwise qualified women out of jobs.
The Pennsylvania State Police has made “strong affirmative efforts to recruit qualified women to join the trooper ranks … and will continue this commitment, independently of any hectoring by the United States through this or any other form of legal action,” the state said in a legal brief filed this week.
The government’s lawsuit said that nearly 100 percent of male recruits pass the initial physical readiness tests while about 70 percent of female recruits pass. About 5 percent of the department’s 4,700 sworn members are women.
The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division argued that the different pass rates for men and women were evidence the tests had a disparate impact on women.
It seeks an order preventing the state police from engaging in discriminatory employment practices as well as back pay and other remedies for women who did not pass the test.
The state, in its response, denied there’s a gross statistical disparity between the pass rates for men and women, noting that under the federal government’s own standard the pass rate for women should be 80 percent of the pass rate for men.
The state said the government had no legal authority to bring the case.