The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and CSX Transportation Inc. reached a $3.2 million settlement in a lawsuit in which the transportation company was accused of administering physical capability tests that prevented women from being hired for certain jobs.

U.S. District Judge Robert Chambers dismissed the lawsuit Tuesday after CSX agreed to pay the money for lost wages and benefits to women in more than 20 states who were denied jobs with the company because of the physical test.

Under the consent decree Chambers handed down Tuesday, CSX will be required to stop administering the “IPCS Biodex” test and retain expert consultants to conduct scientific studies before adopting certain types of physical abilities testing programs in its hiring process.

The commission sued CSX last August in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of West Virginia and claimed officials at CSX Transportation in Huntington were engaging in unlawful employment practices that discriminate against women in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

The lawsuit was filed through the federal commission’s Pittsburgh Area Office.

Specifically, the commission’s attorneys said Amanda Hutchinson was awarded a position at CSX, but she later was excluded due to her performance in the physical capability test that CSX required for employment at that facility.

In addition to the Biodex test, the commission said CSX also administered a 3-minute step test to measure aerobic ability and an arm endurance test that previously was discontinued.

The tests were applicable to multiple positions, including conductor, entry-level signal maintainer, track worker, car worker and various utility positions, according to the complaint. Attorneys for the commission said men had a significantly higher pass rate for the tests than women, causing an unlawful discriminatory effect on female workers.

The commission did not allege any intentional discrimination by CSX in this case.

“The EEOC will continue to carefully examine employer testing and screening practices to identify those that operate as systemic barriers to employment based on protected characteristics,” EEOC District Director Jamie R. Williamson said in a news release. “Workers who believe they are being subjected to the discriminatory effects of such practices should bring them to the attention of the EEOC.”

CSX Corp., together with its subsidiaries based in Jacksonville, Florida, is one of the nation’s leading transportation providers, according to the news release.

CSX’s principal operating company, CSX Transportation operates a nearly 21,000-route-mile rail network, which serves major population centers in 23 states east of the Mississippi River, the District of Columbia and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec, according to the news release.

Reach Lacie Pierson at lacie.pierson@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1723 or follow @laciepierson on Twitter.

Courts Reporter