On May 30, 2008, plaintiff, represented by private counsel and the Public Citizen Litigation Group, filed a class action complaint in the United States District Court of Connecticut alleging a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e) et seq. The proposed class consisted of all female applicants for the position of Correction Officer at the State of Connecticut Department of Correction who participated in the Correction Officer selection process and failed only the timed run portion of the physical fitness test. The complaint sought injunctive relief and attorneys fees.
Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that the State of Connecticut Department of Corrections' hiring process violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The hiring process for the position of Corrections Officer consisted of a written exam, a physical test, a criminal background check, and an interview. During the relevant period, the physical test involved a sit and reach test, a one-minute sit-up test, a one minute push-up test, and a timed one and a half mile run test. The applicants were required to reach a minimum sex-by-age standard.
The Class is comprised of female applicants who failed only the run portion of the physical test. On average, female applicants failed the physical fitness test at a statistically significant higher rate than their male counterparts; every administration of the physical test resulted in a disparate impact on the female applicants. The Department of Corrections utilized the test on three occasions after becoming aware of the disparate impact on women; however, in 2007, the run portion of the test was modified to a 300 meter run test, which does not create an adverse impact on female Correction Officer applicants. The one and a half mile run test was not proven to be a factor associated with the performance of essential or critical physical functions of the Corrections Officer position. The run test was, also, not shown to have predictive value.
Judge Janet C. Hall certified the class, January 4, 2010, under Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(b)(2). The defendant's subsequent motion to decertify the class was denied, but the plaintiff's motion to modify the class was granted. The original class was certified under Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(b)(2), the modified class maintained the certification with respect to issues of liability and class-wide injunctive relief. A separate class was certified under Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(b)(3) with regard to the determination of monetary damages and individualized injunctive relief. The Court held that the class consisted of all female applicants who participated in the selection process for the position of Corrections Officer and failed only the 1.5 mile run portion of the physical fitness test at any time from June 28, 2004 until final judgment.
On July 23, 2013, plaintiff requested that the Court preliminarily approve proposed settlement and enter the proposed settlement order for the disparate impact hiring claims. The parties extensively negotiated the settlement agreement with the assistance of Magistrate Judge Fitzsimmons. On July 26, 2013 Judge Hall granted the plaintiff's motion for preliminary approval of the settlement; the Judge also granted the proposed notice of settlement and the class action settlement procedure.
Under the settlement the State of Connecticut will pay $1,851,892 in gross back pay to be distributed to the class members on a pro rata basis. If all eligible class members participate (124 women), each will receive approximately $15,000 in back pay, which is close the the actual economic loss that each class member suffered. The settlement also included equitable relief such as an expedited hiring process for class members who decided to reapply for the Correction Officer position, pension credits, and options for one-time compensation in lieu of certain seniority benefits. The settlement agreement also provided for the payment of plaintiff's attorneys' fees and costs, $1,232,463. Silke Watson - 10/20/2013