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CSX settles EEOC strength-testing lawsuit

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CSX Transportation Inc. has agreed to pay $3.2 million to settle sex discrimination litigation filed against it by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in connection with strength testing that the agency said had a disparate impact on female job applicants.

The EEOC said Wednesday that the Jacksonville, Florida-based railroad conducted isokinetic strength testing as a requirement for workers to be hired in various jobs.

It said the test, known as the “IPCS Biodex” test, had an unlawful discriminatory impact on female workers seeking jobs as conductors, material handler/clerks and several other job categories.

The EEOC said also the company used two other employment tests — a three-minute step test that measures aerobic capacity and a discontinued endurance test — as a requirement for selection into certain jobs, and that these also had a discriminatory effect on female workers, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The EEOC originally filed its litigation in U.S. District Court in Huntington, West Virginia. The agency and CSX agreed to settle the case before any ruling.

The EEOC also said it did not allege any intentional discrimination by the company in this case.

In addition to paying $3.2 million in lost wages and benefits to a class of women in 20 states who were denied positions because of the testing, the consent decree settling the case requires the company to stop the physical abilities testing practices.

It must also retain expert consultants to conduct scientific studies before adopting certain types of physical abilities testing programs for use in its hiring, the agency said in its statement.

“We commend CSX Transportation for working collaboratively with the EEOC to address our concerns about the railroad’s physical abilities testing program,” EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence in Baltimore said in the statement. “The company’s willingness to confer with the EEOC about the agency’s concerns and its agree­ment to cease the testing practices at issue reflect a corporate commitment to gender diversity and inclu­sion that will benefit both workers and the company.”

CSX said in a statement that it “maintains a strong commitment to diversity, which we believe is essential to broadening access to the greatest talent and to contributing to the overall success of our company.”

“We are committed to fulfilling our obligations under this resolution and to promoting an environment that embraces teamwork, gender diversity and inclusion. Our dedication to these values will ensure the best outcome for our employees, our company and our shareholders.”