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State v. City of Cottonwood

Date: 
July, 2011

This is an action brought under the Arizona Civil Rights Act to correct unlawful employment practices, to provide appropriate relief to an aggrieved person, and to vindicate the public interest. Specifically, the State brings this matter to redress the injury sustained because, at the time Charging Party Monica Kuhlt (“Kuhlt”) was applying to be promoted to sergeant in December 2006, Defendants adopted a physical fitness test and performance standards that Defendants knew had a disparate impact on women. Defendants had not validated the physical fitness test or performance standards as job related or necessary to the position of sergeant (or to any other law enforcement position with Defendants) and had not considered less restrictive physical fitness testing standards that would satisfy Defendants’ actual business needs without adversely affecting female police officers or applicants.

The physical fitness test and performance standards were incorporated into a set of testing protocols and procedures set forth in General Order 206. Although General Order 206 did not require officers like Kuhlt who had been hired before January 1, 2007, to pass the physical fitness test until January 1, 2010, Defendants used Kuhlt’s inability to pass the test as a pretext to deny her promotion to sergeant twice in 2007 and once in 2008, and to promote less-qualified men in her stead. More, Defendants relaxed testing protocols and passing standards for at least one man who applied to the CPD after January 1, 2007, to allow him to enter the police training academy, while holding Kuhlt and a state-certified female police officer who applied to the CPD after January 1, 2007, to more rigorous standards to prevent them from being promoted or hired. Finally, because Kuhlt opposed Defendants’ discriminatory application of the General Order 206 physical fitness test, Defendants retaliated against her by, among other things, denying her an important training opportunity; requiring her to submit to an unwarranted medical examination; and placing her on light duty for five months when similarly situated male officers were not placed on light duty at all, purportedly because she was medically “unfit” for duty, although Kuhlt’s own physician represented there were “no contraindications” to her performing all her CPD duties. Therefore, Defendants’ actions in this case constitute disparate impact and disparate treatment employment discrimination based on sex in violation of the Arizona Civil Rights Act, Arizona Revised Statute § 41- 1463(B)(1) & (2), and retaliation in violation of Arizona Revised Statute § 41-1464(A).