Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts of Psychology


Selection procedures are designed with the goal to select the most qualified applicant for the job. A variety of selection tests are used in organizations today, including physical ability tests, which are often used in police agencies and fire departments. A total of 22 physical ability testing cases at the Appellate and Supreme Court level were identified to be included as part of a review to examine the outcome of litigation. Of the 22 cases, only 6 cases involved a female plaintiff, while 1 involved a Hispanic plaintiff. There were five race-based claims and nine gender-based claims (three of the gender-based were reverse discrimination cases). There was not a statistical difference between the number of race-based and gender-based claims. Only six cases had information regarding whether the test had been validated (four were validated, two were not). The courts ruled in favor of the defendant in the four cases where the test was validated. In all 22 cases, public safety was found to be an issue of concern. Of the 22 cases, 15 found for the defendant, 2 found for the plaintiff, and 3 were remanded, indicating that when public safety is a concern the defendant is likely to prevail. It was hypothesized that the courts would rule in favor of the defendant when the selection test was a work sample or job simulation versus a pure ability test. This hypothesis was not supported. For 20 of the 22 cases, no information was provided whether practice was offered to the applicant prior to testing. In the two cases where practice was offered, the defendant prevailed.


Industrial and Organizational Psychology | Psychology