A recent lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against CSX Transportation has reinforced the need for employers to carefully consider discriminatory effects of pre-employment testing.

Since 2008, CSX Transportation has used an isokinetic strength test known as the IPCS Biodex as a requirement for employees hired to various positions, which require physical activity. The test measures the upper and lower body muscle strength. The EEOC found that women passed this test at a lower rate than their male counterparts and alleges a discriminatory impact on females that were seeking positions.

According to the EEOC, such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrim­ination based on sex. Title VII prohibits employment practices such as tests that are administered to all applicants and employees regardless of sex but that cause a discriminatory effect or impact on persons of a particular sex. Employers using tests for employment selection purposes that cause a significant discriminatory effect or impact based on sex, or any other covered basis, must prove that those practices are necessary for safe and efficient performance of the specific jobs for which the tests are used. Even if such necessity is proven, such tests are prohibited by Title VII if it is shown that there are alternative practices that can achieve the employers’ objectives but have a less discriminatory effect.

For more information see EEOC’s press release.