June 12, 2018 1:30 PM, EDT

CSX Agrees to Pay $3.2 Million for Women Harmed by Job Testing

CSX News: Sex bias case settlementSchnitzel_bank/Flickr

CSX Transportation Inc. and the U.S. government asked a federal judge to approve an agreement settling sex bias allegations for $3.2 million and other relief.

The government alleged that CSX’s physical abilities testing discriminated against women as a class.

The proposed agreement between the railroad, the U.S. government, and the government’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission would apply to all CSX operations in the U.S. and U.S. territories and possessions, if approved by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.

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CSX also would offer jobs to women eligible to share in the settlement and would stop using discriminatory testing practices. The challenged practices, used to screen for various jobs, included an isokinetic strength test, an arm ergometer test, and a three-minute-step test, according to the proposed two-year consent decree.

The EEOC alleged in its August 2017 lawsuit that the tests all resulted in female applicants being disqualified at a higher rate than men who took them. While that may have been unintentional, such disparate impact or adverse consequences discrimination is similarly illegal under federal workplace law, the agency said.

The settlement, if approved, would be a win for the agency and its position that physical abilities testing is unlawful when it has a disparate impact based on a trait protected by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act or other federal anti-bias laws. Moreover, eliminating barriers in hiring and recruitment currently is a strategic enforcement priority for the agency.

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CSX denies the allegations and doesn’t admit liability by agreeing to the settlement, according to the proposed decree.

The parties had informed Judge Robert C. Chambers March 28 that they agreed in principle to the settlement, and he gave them until June 1 to finalize the terms of the agreement and file a proposed consent decree for his approval.

CSX must retain expert consultants to perform scientific studies before it may resume using certain types of physical abilities testing programs as part of its hiring process, the decree states.

The parties didn’t immediately respond June 12 to Bloomberg’s request for comment.