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CSX violated federal law by implementing a physical abilities battery that discriminates against women, according to a lawsuit field by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) last week.The EEOC alleges that since at least 2008, CSX has conducted isokinetic strength testing as a requirement for workers to be selected for various jobs. Known as the IPCS Biodex, the strength test causes a discriminatory impact on women seeking jobs as conductors, material handlers/clerks, and a number of other job categories, the EEOC said in a press release.CSX purports to use the test to measure upper- and lower-body muscle strength. The EEOC charged that female workers who have taken the test pass at significantly lower rates as compared to their male counterparts.The agency also alleges that CSX used two other employment tests — one to measure aerobic capacity and one seeking to test arm endurance — as a requirement for selection into certain jobs, and women also passed those tests at significantly lower rates as compared to men.According to the EEOC's complaint, CSX declined to hire a class of women workers for a range of jobs they sought because they failed these tests, and the effect of company testing practices has been to discriminate against women workers because of their sex.Such conduct is in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment practices such as tests that are administered to all applicants and employees regardless of sex but that cause a discriminatory effect or impact on persons of a particular sex, EEOC officials said.Employers using tests for employment selection purposes that cause a significant discriminatory effect or impact based on sex, or any other covered basis, must prove that those practices are necessary for safe and efficient performance of the specific jobs for which the tests are used. Even if such necessity is proven, such tests are prohibited by Title VII if it is shown that there are alternative practices that can achieve the employers' objectives but have a less discriminatory effect.The EEOC filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia after first trying to reach a settlement with CSX through the administrative conciliation process. "The EEOC has prioritized enforcement actions to eliminate discriminatory barriers to the employment of women and other workers," said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence. "Therefore, employers should carefully examine their employment practices, such as tests and other selection procedures, to make certain that those practices are not causing an unlawful disparate impact because of sex or another covered demographic category."
CSX is committed to following anti-discrimination laws and will "defend its rigorous attention to inclusiveness and safety," said company spokesman Rob Doolittle in a prepared statement.
"Equal employment opportunity and the safety of our employees make up the foundation of our core values and business practices," Doolittle said. "Both work hand-in-hand to ensure our employees are in an inclusive environment where they can contribute to the best of their abilities and return home safely every day."