The United States government pitted itself against both the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) in a recent lawsuit, contesting that the state trooper hiring process was gender-biased and in direct contradiction to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII guarantees a person’s right to find employment or sign a lease free from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.
An attorney for neighboring NYC Lipsky Lowe employment law firm anonymously commented: “We were surprised it took so long for the Justice Department to recognize the wrongdoing by the PSP as far back as 2003. The tests employed by the PSP were very obviously discriminatory and disrespectful to women.”
According to the lawsuit, the PSP violated the rights of several applicants by testing for skills not required to perform tasks related to the job.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela S. Karlan of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said, “Employers cannot impose selection criteria that unfairly screen out qualified female applicants. When the Pennsylvania State Police use a physical fitness test as part of the process for choosing state troopers, they must ensure that the test complies with federal law. This settlement agreement reflects the Civil Right Division’s continued commitment to removing artificial barriers that prevent women from becoming law enforcement officers.”
The settlement means that the PSP will pay a surprising $2.2 million into a fund that will become available to the women who were involved in the lawsuit. PSP will also be forced to alter its work environment to be more beneficial for the women who already work there. PSP will offer hiring relief and retroactive seniority to at least 65 women for the jobs that they were barred from receiving. The applicants must still pass all relevant physical examinations.
Both parties requested a court order to approve the settlement deal.
Cases like these are on the rise, but the aforementioned Title VII does nothing to help those who are discriminated against based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The recent Equality Act passed through the House of Representatives, but faces a major hurdle in the United States Senate, where Democrats hold the slimmest of minorities. They need to convince at least ten Republican colleagues to vote for the piece of legislation at a time when Republicans across the country are set on waging war against trans rights. It’s a high bar.
It seems likely now that the only way Biden’s agenda will become law is to remove the filibuster — but the conservative-leaning Democratic Senator Manchin has already put his foot down, saying he will never change his mind to favor the idea. Republicans seem poised to obstruct every piece of major legislation that Biden has set his sights on.