A new federal lawsuit alleges the Connecticut Department of Correction used an unlawful physical fitness test to screen out otherwise qualified female applicants for correctional officer jobs for at least 17 years, Outten & Golden LLP and co-counsel said today.
Filed in Connecticut federal court today, the lawsuit alleges the state imposed a four-part physical fitness test on all applicants for the Correction Officer position that failed female applicants at significantly higher rates than men, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The case was filed on behalf of Denisha Davis, of Bloomfield, Conn., and other 2012 female job applicants. Ms. Davis filed an administrative class-wide charge of discrimination with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). She received a “Notice of Right to Sue” on Oct. 17, 2014.
The lawsuit follows earlier litigation in Easterling v. Connecticut Department of Correction, in which a federal court held in 2011 that the state fitness test violated Title VII and found for the job applicant plaintiffs. The new lawsuit alleges that the state’s revised physical fitness test – which modified only one aspect of the test from a 1.5-mile run to a 300-meter dash – continued to have an adverse impact on women.
Unlike the previous litigation, the new lawsuit also alleges that the Department engaged in intentional sex discrimination. Specifically, the complaint alleges that the Department’s knowing use of an unlawful physical test and refusal to remove this test over the course of 17 years, amounted to intentional sex discrimination.
Earlier this year, and only following Ms. Davis’s filing of a charge of discrimination with the EEOC, the Department announced that it would not use the physical fitness test as an initial eligibility requirement for the 2014 application process. The lawsuit seeks relief for the most recent class of failed female applicants from the 2012 test administration.
The legal team for the plaintiffs includes lawyers from Outten & Golden and the Dugger Law Firm, PLLC, of New York.
Ms. Davis applied for the position of C.O. with the Department of Correction in 2012. She took and passed the written portion of the examination. She then took and failed the physical fitness test as part of the examination on June 19, 2012 and was notified of her failure the same day.
Adam Klein, of Outten & Golden, said, “The time has come for the State of Connecticut to end the discrimination against otherwise qualified women seeking to work for the Department of Correction. Even after losing the earlier federal litigation, the state has not managed to comply with federal law.”
The lawsuit seeks certification of the case as a class action, restoration of the plaintiffs’ employment, back pay, attorneys’ fees, and court costs.
The case is “Davis. v. State of Connecticut Department of Correction,” Class Action Complaint No. 3:15-cv-00057, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut. The defendants are the State of Connecticut Department of Correction and the State of Connecticut Department of Administrative Services.
Media Contact: Erin Powers, Powers MediaWorks LLC, for Outten & Golden LLP, 281.703.6000,@email.