On Wednesday, the Texas Department of Public Safety Officers Association (DPSOA) filed a lawsuit against the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) over a policy that states officers who exceed a waistline requirement can lose their job.
Last year, DPS implemented a new policy that requires male troopers to maintain a waistline of 40 inches or less and female troopers 35 inches or less. According to the lawsuit, filed in Travis County, the requirement is discriminatory because officers who do not meet the standard face possible termination, transfer or demotion, according to the lawsuit. Officers could also lose overtime pay or be barred from working off-duty jobs.
DPS Troopers who do not meet the requirements are subject to these strict repercussions even if they pass all their physical readiness tests and "despite their proficiency to do the job," according to a news release from DPSOA.
"A physically fit, 230 pound, 6 foot, 2 inch male trooper with two decades of experience may have a waist size of 41 inches due to his large build," the statement read. "Due to the shortsighted directive, this Trooper would potentially be removed from duty, taking an experience law enforcement presence off the streets."
"Not only is this policy demeaning, it is damaging to our troopers and to our citizens," Richard Jankovsky, the president of the officer's association, said in the release. "Not all physically fit troopers are of the same body type, the same height or the same genetic makeup. Troopers have been subject to fitness standards for more than a decade. The new standards have moved beyond testing for fitness needed to perform one’s duty as an officer into an appearance policy that has little bearing on an officer’s ability to keep Texans safe."
In spring 2019, the lawsuit states, DPS conducted fitness testing for 1,153 officers. Of those, 594 did not meet the waist circumference requirement.
"The Mission of Texas DPSOA is to advocate on behalf of our Troopers, Agents Rangers and members," DPSOA said in a statement. "We fully support a heart health program. We fully support a physical fitness program. We are advocating that DPS follow the Physical fitness standards as established in statute by the legislature."
The lawsuit asked the Court to put the policy on hold until its legality is determined.
Katherine Cesinger, the spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety, did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s requests for comment.
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