DPS defends controversial waistline policy after union files lawsuit

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Department of Public Safety has defended its controversial waistline policy, insisting it does not violate employment law.

DPS is under fire from some workers for introducing the policy, which states that male workers can’t have a waist larger than 40 inches, and women’s can’t be more than 35 inches.

It is being sued by the Texas Department of Public Safety Officers Association, which argues that the policy is discriminatory.

But in a statement, DPS said its Physical Fitness Program has passed scrutiny checks.

“Last week, the Public Safety Commission (PSC) approved the department’s Physical Fitness Program and issued a resolution that concludes DPS’ policy is consistent with generally accepted scientific standards and meets applicable requirements of state and federal labor and employment law,” DPS said

The statement adds that DPS does not comment on pending legislation.

In an email to all employees sent last week, DPS wrote: 

Importantly, the DPS command presence assessment is not an arbitrary waist size requirement. The measurement of the waist in the first assessment tool and the measurements in the second and third assessment tools are accepted and validated methods of assessing body fat composition. Furthermore, the thresholds were established by the scientific community, not DPS, and the threshold standards that we have adopted favor the employee. We intentionally adopted three separate assessment tools that are commonly used to ensure officers of all body types have an assessment tool favorable to them. In fact, it has already been proven this testing cycle that an officer can have a waist in excess of 40/35 inches but still be in full compliance of the new policy.

The union says repercussions from failing the test could include not being allowed to work overtime and even being fired. It argues that DPS did not follow state law in using a consultant to create the measurement standard.

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