A federal appeals court on Monday ruled in favor of female Chicago paramedics who alleged that the physical performance test previously used by the city of Chicago in hiring discriminated against women.
The physical performance test was used by the city from 2000 to 2014.
According to the plaintiffs, 1,100 paramedic applicants, including 800 men and 300 women, took the test between 2000 and 2009. Among those who took the test, 98 percent of the male and 60 percent of the female applicants passed.
Five female paramedic applicants brought their sex discrimination lawsuit suit in 2004.
Monday’s ruling overturns federal district court decisions from 2014 and 2015, which found that “the city’s use of the test did not discriminate against female applicants,” according to the plaintiffs’ attorneys.
In striking down the test, the appeals court said “the physical entrance exam … risks cementing unfairness into Chicago’s job-application process.”
“Today, justice has finally been served,” paramedic Irene Res, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said in a statement. “We brought this case over ten years ago, for all of the women who came before us and were told they just aren’t good enough–when, in fact, they were–and for all of the women who will come after us and succeed.
“Today, the court agreed with us that the test used for all of those years had nothing to do with what we paramedics do on a daily basis,” Res added. “It’s unfortunate the city was able to eliminate so many qualified women who are great paramedics and who would have done a great service to the public and the city.”
A Chicago law department spokesman issued a statement Monday, saying “We are disappointed with the court’s ruling and will continue to vigorously defend this suit.”