Texas state troopers sue over new waistline policy

By John Suayan

A new Texas Department of Public Safety policy limiting the size of state troopers’ waistlines is the subject of a union’s lawsuit.

Under the policy in question, new fitness requirements say that male officers’ waistlines must be no more than 40 inches and women’s waists must be 35 inches or less. According to the San Antonio Express News, officers who fail to meet the standards could be subjected to disciplinary action including reassignment, denied overtime or deemed ineligible for promotion.

The Texas Department of Public Safety Officers Association slammed the policy as demeaning. Union president Richard Jankovsky asserted that a trooper’s appearance is irrelevant to his or her job responsibilities.

“Not all physically fit troopers are of the same body type, the same height or the same genetic makeup,” Jankovsky told the Express News. “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 the lawsuit filed earlier this month in a state district court in Austin, the union claimed the policy violates state law because it does not directly relate to a trooper’s job duties and was developed without a consultant’s assistance.

According to the DPSOA, a trooper’s high marks on all other required parts of the DPS’s physical fitness testing and proficiency to perform his or her duties does not override the subject policy.

A physically fit male trooper who stands 6-foot-2-inches and weighs 230 pounds with 20 years of experience could possibly be dismissed from duty for having a 41-inch waistline, per the new rules.

The DPOSA requested the court to freeze the policy while the litigation is in effect.

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