WASHINGTON (WJZ) — The Department of Justice announced Tuesday its filed an employment discrimination lawsuit against Baltimore County and the Baltimore County Police Department.
The lawsuit, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, alleges that since January 2013, BCPD engaged in unintended employment discrimination against African American applicants for entry-level police officer and cadet positions by making hiring decisions based on the results of hiring examinations that were not job-related and that “disproportionately excluded African American applicants,”
The tests focused on reading comprehension, vocabulary, spelling, and grammar. It also had logical ordering and observation skill related questions.
Through this lawsuit, the US seeks a court order that would require BCPD to utilize selection procedures that comply with Title VII and provide individual remedies to African American former applicants who are shown to be entitled to them.
“Employers must be mindful that an employment selection device, like a test, must be shown to be job-related if it disproportionately excludes members of one of Title VII’s protected groups,” stated Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
Title VII is a federal law that prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin and religion.
Baltimore County Councilman Julian Jones said he’s confident the county will make changes, but he’s also concerned.
“It’s important that the police department reflect the communities that we serve,” Jones said. “That’s important in terms of community relations, as well as relating to the people that we serve.”
Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski released a statement saying that “A law enforcement agency should look like the community it serves.”
My statement on the lawsuit filed by DOJ. pic.twitter.com/5FLtf2BNuG
— County Executive Johnny Olszewski (@BaltCoExec) August 27, 2019
Olszewski also said that he’s committed to diversity, and in a statement said:
“In the interest of moving forward and while denying any liability for actions by prior administrations, we have stopped using the test that the Justice Department believes has an adverse impact on African American applicants.”
Olszewski said he’s already working with new Police Chief Melissa Hyatt about — the first woman to lead the department — about how to increase diversity.
Just last week, the County Executive’s Office announced two new positions that will focus on diversity, one specifically for the police department.
Baltimore County Police have not released any statement.