“Retroactive seniority” to females who failed DOC’s ‘discriminatory’ physical test

Jun 29th, 2012 | By | Category: Courts, Spotlight
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Is it discriminatory to expect females to scale a 6 foot wall?  So says the Federal Government–The Court agrees.

Prisons Make Up for Test Unfair to Female Guards

By LORRAINE BAILEY | Courthouse News Service
(CN) – A federal judge approved a deal affording priority hiring with retroactive seniority to female prison guard applicants in Massachusetts who were held to the same physical standards as men.

The Massachusetts Department of Corrections began selecting entry-level correctional officers through the Caritas Physical Abilities Test in 2007.

Applicants must pass 11 events to become a correctional officer, and the test requires the same physical performances from both men and women.

In 2007, 97.2 percent of men passed, while only 55.1 percent of women passed. In 2008, 96 percent of men passed, while 65.2 percent of women passed. In 2009, 99 percent of men passed and 84.2 percent of women passed.

That year, the United States sued Massachusetts and its Department of Corrections, alleging that the test had an unintentional disparate impact on women in violation of employment-discrimination protections in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

The parties eventually reached a settlement in which Massachusetts would pay $736,000 to the female applicants who previously failed the test…(Full text at Courthouse News Service)

In Paco’s estimation, the 84.2% of female applicants passing the test in 2009 proves the test is not discriminatory at all. Rather, as the numbers attest, the wall climb and other “discriminatory” tests are a reasonable standard that a majority of the females rose to. Yet, because men passed with higher numbers, it must be some kind of bias.

Never mind the fact that CO’s must perform physically challenging tasks on a day to day basis. Whether or not employees are able to meet a minimum standard is irrelevant compared to the desirability of having a balanced workforce.

So, what’s next? Will future physical fitness tests be patterned after golf courses, where females have a separate tee, closer to the green? Shall females scale a shorter wall, drag a smaller and lighter dummy or run a kilometer for each mile male applicants complete?

Women make great CPO’s and the majority of those who want to work in corrections are more than capable of doing so. Those who cannot scale a wall or drag a 185 pound dummy have no more “right” to be CO’s than males who fail the test.

Or, to put it in sexist terms, women who want to do what was once considered a “man’s job” ought to be subjected to the same standards. After all, the tests in question are reasonable, time tested standards. If females were expected to stand and urinate a prescribed distance, THAT would be sex discrimination–Scaling a wall is not. –

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5 Comments to ““Retroactive seniority” to females who failed DOC’s ‘discriminatory’ physical test”

  1. Bob Walsh says:

    Women as a group have less upper body strength than men as a group. Six foot fences are a reality in most urban settings. It is a legitimate test. The CHP used to have (and I think still has) a minimum height requirement that they managed to keep as legitimately job related, among other things to ensure the the cops could see over the tops of the patrol cars. I have seen female C/Os in the institution who could not count without standing on something because they could not see the bottom bunk through the cell door window. One of them pulled a milk carton around with her on a dog leash to make an effective, impromptu foot stool. It worked. Clearly that would not work on the street.

  2. Gadfly says:

    The six-foot wall has always been a challenge for women as an agility test for street cops as well. It is a good indicator of upper arm strength. The last thing anyone working the streets wants is a partner (male or female) who has to run around a fence instead of scaling it in pursuit of a suspect. But judges never have to chase anyone (they just ask their bailiffs to do it.)

    Amazingly, the majority of women who have asked me what they needed to do to train in order to get over the wall managed to figure it out well before taking the test. They worked their butts off (some needed to in order to lift the lower half over the wall) and passed the test. This Massachusetts ruling is cheating not only a legitimate measure of strength for candidates, it also opens the door for lawsuits from men who were DQ’d for the same reason.

    Discrimination is not all bad. After all, lawyers and judges have had to pass a bar (exam) to work in the legal profession. Should we eliminate that requirement, if it discriminates against a particular group that is less than familiar with jurisprudence, like locker-room lawyers?

  3. Howie Katz says:

    Horseshit! If the physical agility tests, including the wall climb, are work-related, they are not discriminatory. The feminist movement has screamed for women’s equal rights, but what they really want is more rights than men.

    Just look at what the Navy did years ago to open its ranks to more women. During basic training, all navy recruits were paired off to carry a 150 pound dummy on a stretcher for a specified distance in a specified time. Hardly any of the women recruits were able to complete the test successfully, even when paired off with a male litter bearer. So what did the Navy do? It changed the test to where four litter bearers carried the dummy, and they even reduced the distance to accommodate the female recruits. They had a good reason to require the original test – getting an injured sailor far enough away from spreading flames in time to prevent further injury.

    Any time that standards are lowered to accommodate a protected group – like women – the standards are lowered for everyone!

  4. kl2008a says:

    Larry, dwarfs or midget is not the politically correct term. It is “height impaired”. The same with handicapped. They are “handi-abled”. As for Paco’s “expected to stand and urinate a prescribed distance” I’d venture a little further and add piss up a rope of write their name in the snow. OK, I know it sounds bad, but I do know some women that can do BOTH. Yep. True., and you don’t want to get in their way!

  5. My name is Larry says:

    Ridiculous. The tests also discriminate against dwarfs, midgets, paraplegics and anyone else who cannot meet the minimum physical specs. Just look at how the females improved year to year. It is pretty obvious some did a self DQ but most probably TRAINED to get in the proper shape. This settlement is an insult to women and a slap in the face to the 87% of females who passed before the feds stepped in an dumbed down physical fitness.