Triad of New Suits Challenge Hiring Practices That Allegedly Discriminate Against Women

August 14, 2017

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a triad of unrelated lawsuits against employers in the transportation and parking industries challenging practices that purportedly discriminate against women based on their sex, and in one case, also based on age.

EEOC v CSX Transportation, Inc, SDWV, case number 3:17-cv-03731. The provider of rail-based transportation services, with operations throughout the eastern half of the United States, violated Title VII by implementing a physical abilities test battery that causes a class-wide disparate impact on female workers seeking a range of jobs, according to the EEOC. Since at least 2008, the company has conducted isokinetic strength testing as a requirement for workers to be selected for various jobs. The strength test, known as the IPCS Biodex, allegedly has a discriminatory impact on female workers seeking jobs as conductor, material handler/clerk, and a number of other job categories. CSX purports to use the IPCS Biodex to measure upper- and lower-body muscle strength; the EEOC says that female workers who have taken the test pass at significantly lower rates than do their male counterparts.

The EEOC also challenges two other employment tests used by CSX, one purporting to measure aerobic capacity and one seeking to test arm endurance, as a requirement for selection into certain jobs. Female workers also passed those tests at significantly lower rates as compared to male workers, according to the EEOC.

Disparate impact. CSX declined to hire a class of women workers for a range of jobs they sought because they failed these tests, the EEOC contends, and the effect of company’s testing practices has been to discriminate against women workers because of their sex.

The federal agency stressed that 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 is seeking injunctive relief and court-ordered job instatement as well as payment of monetary remedies in the form of past and future lost wages and benefits to the class of female workers adversely affected by CSX's testing.

EEOC v R&LCarriers, Inc and R&L Shared Services, LLC, SDOhio, case number 1:17-cv-00515-SJD. The Wilmington, Ohio-based companies allegedly violated Title VII when they refused to hire qualified females as dockworkers/loaders, said the EEOC. The companies allegedly refused to hire women as dockworkers or loaders, which not only deprived but deterred female applicants from applying for positions not traditionally held by women, and otherwise adversely affected their status because of their sex.

The EEOC’s lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages, backpay, and injunctive relief.

EEOC v Eagle Parking, LLC, NDGa, case number 1:17-cv-2904-TWT-CMS. The full-service parking management company headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, violated Title VII and the ADEA by discriminating against an applicant for employment because of her gender and her age, according to the EEOC. In January 2016, a 60-year-old woman applied for a valet position with company. During her interview, the operations manager allegedly looked at the woman’s application and told her that she would not be successful as a valet because of the "physicality of the job." Instead, the operations manager told her that she would be perfect for a customer service position and told her to come back the following week to attend orientation, the EEOC said. The day before she was scheduled to begin her new position, the applicant called to ask what time she should report. The operations manager purportedly told the applicant that the job had already been filled. The EEOC said that according to Eagle Parking's records, after the female applicant was interviewed, the company hired several male valets and customer service employees who were substantially younger than Hayden.

The federal agency is asking the court for back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and liquidated damages for the applicant, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent such discrimination in the future.