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CSX settles sex discrimination suit over use of physical tests

June 14, 2018

HUNTINGTON - CSX Transportation Inc. will pay $3.2 million to settle a company-wide lawsuit filed in August 2017 by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regarding sex discrimination in hiring practices, according to a news release the EEOC released Wednesday.

The lawsuit involved a complaint filed by CSX applicant Amanda Hutchinson, who was awarded a position at the company but was terminated for failure to pass physical capability tests CSX requires for employment in certain positions.

CSXT is required to cease the physical abilities testing practices and pay $3.2 million into a settlement fund to pay lost wages and benefits to a class of women in over 20 states who were denied positions under the testing. CSXT must also retain consultants to conduct studies before adopting physical abilities tests for hiring purposes.

The EEOC argued the “IPCS Biodex” test, three-minute step test and arm ergometer test were all in violation of the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which states employers cannot fire or deny a job to a person or limit a person’s classification or status as an employee based on their race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

The passing rates for all three tests were higher for men than women. In jobs requiring “heavy” scores, the passage rate has been 87 percent for men and 30 percent for women in more than 13,000 tests given by the company since January 2008. For the “medium heavy” requirement, the passage rate for men was 94 percent but just 47 percent for women, the complaint alleged.

The ergometer test also was administered over a two-year period, with 98 percent of men passing compared with 83 percent of women.

The three-minute step test, which has been used by the company since July 2011, measures applicants’ aerobic abilities. The passing rate for men is 87 percent, while 67 percent of women passed.

“We commend CSX Transportation for working collaboratively with the EEOC to address our concerns about the railroad’s physical abilities testing program,” EEOC regional attorney Debra M. Lawrence said in a news release. “The company’s willingness to confer with the EEOC about the agency’s concerns and its agreement to cease the testing practices at issue reflect a corporate commitment to gender diversity and inclusion that will benefit both workers and the company.”

Follow reporter Megan Osborne on Twitter @megosborneHD.

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