U.S. Sues Texas City Over Discriminatory Police Hiring Practices

By Jon Herskovitz

AUSTIN, Texas, Dec 3 (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against Lubbock alleging that the Texas city has engaged in a pattern of discriminatory hiring practices in its police department, which have hurt Hispanics and women, it said on Thursday.

The lawsuit filed on Wednesday at the U.S. District Court in Lubbock said that the written exam for entry into the police department was set up in a way that systematically excluded Hispanics and that the physical test systematically excluded women.

Officials for the city of Lubbock and its police department were not immediately available for comment.

The lawsuit said that between January 2010 and June 2015, Lubbock administered its written test for police 14 times, with 12 percent of white applicants failing it the first time they took it and 32 percent of Hispanic applicants failing it on their first try.

Just over 60 percent of women failed the physical exam the first time they took the test in the same period while 19 percent of male applicants failed. Applicants needed to meet standards for push-ups, sit-ups, a 300-meter run, a 1.5-mile run and a vertical jump in the exam.

"(The exam) has had an adverse impact on female applicants for probationary police officer and is not job related and consistent with business necessity," the lawsuit said.

It seeks to have the police department stop using the exams under question and develop new selection procedures for police.

"Federal law prohibits employers from using discriminatory employment practices that do not meaningfully evaluate one's ability to perform a given job," said Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. (Editing by Matthew Lewis)