12 Officers File Discrimination Lawsuit Against Colorado Springs

Twelve Colorado Springs police officers have filed a lawsuit against the city claiming they were discriminated against.

The officers say that a required physical ability test (PAT test) is unfair to women officers over 40 years old.

"I think the motivation in part is to get rid of these older women officers," said Attorney Ian Kalmanowitz, who is representing the 12 plaintiffs.

The complaint says the PAT test was introduced as a way to encourage a "culture of fitness" on the force and to reduce injuries while on patrol. It says the test was never supposed to be an indication of how well an officer can do their job.

The test is based off of sit ups, push ups, an agility test and 20 meter runs. Officers tell 11 News you only need to fail one of the components to fail the entire test.

"The test doesn't have anything to do with the ability to perform the duties of the job," said Kalmanowitz.

The tests were first given in October, November and December of 2014 and the complaint alleges that as time went on, the department added disciplinary action for those who failed.

"The punitive consequences of failing to pass the PAT test were unrelated to the announced purposes for administering the test and did not serve any important governmental objective. The punitive consequences included taking away from the officer her right to wear the uniform of the Colorado Springs Police Department or wear any insignia identifying her as a police officer," reads the complaint.

Officers who failed were also allegedly not allowed to receive raises, be eligible for promotions or get any overtime.

"These officers have dedicated their lives to the police department, to the citizens of this community, and they've had that taken away from them. Not being allowed to wear a uniform, not being allowed to wear a badge, do their job," said Kalmanowitz

He also said the department knew most of the women officers over 40 would not be able to pass the test with the requirements that were chosen.

"The department hired a consultant to work with them in preparing this test and conduct a study to validate the test and went into this process knowing that women would fail at a disproportionately greater rate than male officers," he said.

Other police departments across the country do use similar PAT tests, but Kalmanowitz said the criteria is different for different ages and genders.

"Of all the research that we've done and looking at law enforcement departments throughout the state and throughout the country, both the local and national level, this is the only department we have found that is using a physical abilities test for incumbents," he said.

All of the plaintiffs have spent many years with the force and have been recognized for their work.

"We've got Medal of Valor winners, officers who are regularly receiving commendations. These are top notch officers of the Colorado Springs Police Department, there's never been any problem with any of their abilities to perform their jobs," Kalmanowitz said.

According to the complaint, the department's policy said the officers who didn't pass have six months to re-take the test and pass. If they didn't, they would have to undergo a fit for duty evaluation and could be fired.

11 News reached out to the Colorado Springs Police Department for comment and have not heard back.

The city of Colorado Springs told 11 News as of Thursday night, they have not received a copy of the lawsuit, and cannot comment on pending litigation.