UPDATE: Female CSPD police officers win federal court decision about physical testing


Police officers use weights to get in shape. - COURTESY CSPD
  • Courtesy CSPD
  • Police officers use weights to get in shape.
This just in from the city: "The City has received the order from the Court, and is reviewing it and evaluating its options."

———————ORIGINAL POST 3:40 P.M. WEDNESDAY, JULY 12, 2017———————

The Colorado Springs Police Department's Physical Abilities Test required of female officers violates federal laws requiring equal treatment of women,  U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch ruled in a findings of fact issued Wednesday, July 12.

Here's the pertinent part of the ruling:
Ordinarily a court may not substitute its judgment on an employer’s decision as what is an appropriate job requirement. A physical ability requirement may be reasonable for selection of new employees if it does not impose a barrier to that opportunity for any group protected by Title VII.6

To retroactively impose that requirement on women who have invested their lives as career police officers is fundamentally unfair. That is not to say that there can be no fitness requirement to maintain employment but to use physical tests that are not valid measures of the level of fitness that job duties actually require is a violation of Title VII when, as here, there is a disparate impact on women officers.

For the reasons stated the plaintiffs have prevailed on their claim that requiring them to pass the PAT to maintain their employment with the Colorado Springs Police Department violates Title VII.

Based on the foregoing, it is DECLARED that the Colorado Springs Police Department’s employment policy of using the physical abilities test designed by Human Performance Systems, Inc. as the exclusive standard for determining whether an incumbent officer is fit for regular duty violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.
At issue is whether the PAT test used by Police Chief Pete Carey was lawful, given there was no adjustment for females. Some females flunked, but many passed, including most of the plaintiffs that later filed the lawsuit in 2015.

A dozen female officers sued in federal court two years ago. We've reported on this issue here.

The officers were celebrating Wednesday afternoon at the office of their attorney, Donna Dell'Olio.

"They'll never be able to use it [PAT test] again," Dell'Olio told the Independent in an interview. "It's illegal."

The next step of the proceeding, she says, is a trial to a jury over actual damages — lost wages for overtime and other losses when duty was changed based on not passing test — and damages for emotional distress.

"We're going to end up in a jury trial, and the city is facing damages for their [plaintiffs'] emotional distress," Dell'Olio says. "And you know what they've been living with for two years."

Dell'Olio expects Judge Matsch to set a trial date very soon.

She called the decision "a big win" for her clients and said an appeal by the city would be a "waste of time and taxpayer money."

The decision issued Wednesday was based on a week-long trial held in December in U. S. District Court in Denver.

Here's today's ruling:
See related PDF ArndtFindingsOfFact.pdf

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