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. –