Judge rules fitness test used by CSPD is discriminatory against women

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Twelve women filed a complaint against the city of Colorado Springs — first in 2015, then again in 2016.

The women said that the physical fitness test they were made to do had a “disparate” impact on women officers over the age of 40, and that it violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Title 7 “forbids practices that are fair in form, but discriminatory in operation.”

The policy that was originally put in place said that all patrol officers must complete this specific test to show that they were fit for duties as a patrol officer.

CSPD is contracted with HPS (Human Performance Systems) in Maryland, and developed a physical abilities test that would evaluate officers fitness for duty back in 2009.

The policy was that “all officers must demonstrate the ability to perform all of the tasks of a patrol officer, and if an officer failed, the result could be termination of employment.”

The PAT (Physical Abilities Test) consisted of the following:

  • One-minute push-up test
  • One-minute sit-up test
  • Agility run
  • Beep running test

The test’s total points available were 32, and to pass, an officer had to get at least 20 points.

This specific PAT was put into action by Police Chief Peter Carey in September of 2014. The policy then said, “any employee who does not meet the Minimum Performance Standard (MPS) will be placed on light duty and on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) until he/she can successfully complete the process with a minimum score of 20.”

All twelve women who filed the complaint originally failed the PAT, and nine of them passed on subsequent testing.

The plaintiffs were said to be “incumbent officers who have been performing their duties satisfactorily as shown by their evaluation reports.”

Since failing the tests, they said they have been “shamed and ostracized.”

The judge ultimately said that the physical ability test described did not determine whether an incumbent officer is fit for regular duty.

Dr. Arthur Weltmna, a professor of kinesiology and exercise physiology, testified on the behalf of the plaintiffs.

He said the PAT does not measure the physical abilities that it tries to assess with accuracy, and he said it was inaccurate 7 out of 10 times.

CSPD released a statement about the complaint, saying, “The city has received the ruling, is reviewing it, and evaluating the city’s options.”

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