CSX Employment Test Faces Discrimination Challenge

December 14, 2017

For nearly a decade, thousands of people who have applied for work at CSX Transportation’s freight rail yard in Huntington, W.Va. were required to strap into an isokinetic machine that measures muscle strength. While it’s true that working for a railroad line typically involves physical strength, in August the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a class-action lawsuit claiming that the outcomes of the test demonstrate discrimination against women.CSX employment test

According to the lawsuit filed by the EEOC, nearly nine in 10 men passed the test with the top strength score, while just three in 10 women earned similar scores. More than half the women failed the test, while just six percent of the men did. The lawsuit also alleges that two tests, the “step test” to measure aerobic capacity and the “ergometer test” to measure arm strength, are failed significantly more by women than men. The test results demonstrate a disparity in how tests affect a certain class of people (in this case women) that the EEOC is responsible for protecting against workplace discrimination.


Although many employers in all industries use some type of assessment to measure physical and cognitive abilities and certain personality traits as a condition of employment, such tests can have unintended consequences and must be statistically validated to ensure that they effectively predict job safety and performance, meaning a railroad operator must be able to demonstrate that those who pass the test work safer and more effectively than those who don’t. 

This is not the first lawsuit alleging that a physical employment test constituted sex discrimination. In July 2014, the U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit against the Pennsylvania State Police over physical fitness tests that excessively screened out females applying for state trooper positions. A bench trial in the case has been scheduled for April 9, 2018.

 If you have suffered discrimination in your workplace due to your race, gender, age, military status, religion, or disability, contact the employment lawyers at Murray & Murray today.


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