DOJ alleges 'unintentional' discrimination against black applicants by Baltimore County police

DOJ alleges 'unintentional' discrimination against black applicants by Baltimore County police
© Greg Nash

The Justice Department on Tuesday sued the Baltimore County police department, alleging discrimination against black applicants.

In the lawsuit, filed under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the federal government alleges the BCPD made hiring decisions beginning in January 2013 based on non-job-related hiring exams that “disproportionately excluded African American applicants.”

The lawsuit alleges unintended discrimination in hiring for entry-level police officer and cadet positions within the department.


“Between 2015 and 2016, African American applicants passed the 2015 Exam at a lower rate than white applicants passed the 2015 Exam. This difference between the pass rates of white and African American applicants on the 2015 Exam is statistically significant,” the lawsuit states.

“Baltimore County’s use of each of these written examinations as a pass/fail screening device is not job related for the BCPD entry-level police officer and police cadet positions and consistent with business necessity, and does not otherwise meet the requirements” of Title VII, it adds.

“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,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a statement.

The lawsuit seeks a court order that would require the department to develop and use selection procedures better aligned with Title VII as well as compensating individual African American former applicants who demonstrate that they are entitled to it, according to the DOJ.

The Hill has reached out to the BCPD for comment.