July 3 (Reuters) - A federal lawsuit filed on Tuesday accuses Corpus Christi, Texas of discriminating against female applicants to the city's police department by requiring them to pass a physical test that favored men.
The Justice Department said the female pass rate for the test, which was used between 2005 and 2011, was 80 percent lower than the male pass rate and that it excluded otherwise qualified applicants from consideration for hire as entry-level police officers based solely on their gender.
The test, which included push-ups, sit-ups, and a 300-meter and 1.5-mile run, had identical cut-off scores for men and women. But between 2005 and 2009, only 19 percent of the female applicants who took the test passed it, compared with 63 percent of the male applicants, according to the Justice Department.
It said the disparate results "constitute a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment by women of their rights to equal employment opportunities regardless of their sex."
The government wants to city to stop using the physical ability test and to develop hiring procedures that comply with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
It also wants the city to hire some of the women turned away in the past and to offer them retroactive seniority and back pay.
The complaint comes after a 2-1/2 year probe of the city's hiring practices by the Justice Department. Troy Riggs, a current assistant city manager and former police chief of Corpus Christi, said the city had cooperated with the investigation and planned to abide by any consent decree the court imposed.
"We have never disagreed with the Department of Justice," Riggs said.
"We believe its correct for them to be looking at us and that the city has failed in some respects in the past. We've been wrong. When we get a consent decree, we'll live by it."
Riggs said that even as the investigation continued, the city had increased its effort to recruit female officers with some success.
Of the 18 officers who graduated from the city's police academy in 2011, 3 were women, Riggs said. That made them 16.6 percent of the class, compared with a national average of 13 percent, he said.
Corpus Christi, located in south Texas, has a population of 305,000. Its police department employs 450 uniformed officers and 300 support staff. (Reporting by James B. Kelleher; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
99 Problems (JAY-Z)
Eric Fehrnstrom, senior campaign adviser for Mitt Romney, <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2012/06/03/494238/fehrnstrom-shiny-objects-women/" target="_hplink">said on Sunday</a> that issues pertaining to women's reproductive rights, such as abortion and birth control, were "shiny objects" meant to distract voters from the real issues. "Mitt Romney is pro-life," he told ABC's George Stephanopoulos. "He'll govern as a pro-life president, but you're going to see the Democrats use all sorts of shiny objects to distract people's attention from the Obama performance on the economy. This is not a social issue election."
The Senate will vote Thursday on the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would expand and strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and make it illegal for employers to punish women for bringing up pay disparity issues. Dana Perino, a Fox News contributor and former press secretary for President George W. Bush, <a href="http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/04/30/perino-equal-pay-issue-is-a-distraction-for-just-48-hours/" target="_hplink">called the equal pay issue</a> "a distraction" from the country's real financial problems last week. "Well, it's just yet another distraction of dealing with the major financial issues that the country should be dealing with," Perino said. "This is not a job creator."
Just My Imagination (The Temptations)
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), whose home state's legislature recently defunded Planned Parenthood and voted to pass a bill that would allow employers to deny women birth control coverage, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/26/john-mccain-war-on-women_n_1455591.html" target="_hplink">delivered a floor speech</a> in which he insisted that the war on women is something imaginary for Democrats to "sputter about." "My friends, this supposed 'War on Women' or the use of similarly outlandish rhetoric by partisan operatives has two purposes, and both are purely political in their purpose and effect: The first is to distract citizens from real issues that really matter and the second is to give talking heads something to sputter about when they appear on cable television," he said.
Butterfly Fly Away (Miley & Billy Ray Cyrus)
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus tried to trivialize concerns about the legislative "war on women" by comparing it to a "war on caterpillars." "If the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars and every mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we'd have problems with caterpillars," Priebus <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-04-05/priebus-says-gender-battle-as-fictonal-as-caterpillar-war.html" target="_hplink">said in an April interview</a> on Bloomberg Television. "It's a fiction."
Distraction (Angels And Airwaves)
Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Sarah Steelman (R) took heat from her opponents in May when she contended that Democratic lawmakers' focus on the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act was "a distraction" from the issues they should be dealing with instead. "I think it's unfortunate that the Democrats have made a political football out of this thing, which I think is what they keep doing to distract from real problems that are facing our nation," she said in an interview with St. Louis Public Radio.
We Don't Care (Kanye West)
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) defended the Republican Party in April for going after insurance coverage for contraception by arguing that women don't actually care about contraception. "Women don't care about contraception," she said on ABC's The View. "They care about jobs and the economy and raising their families and all those other things."