72-year-old employee fired for failing agility test files suit against TDCJ

Michelle Keahey, East Texas Bureau Apr. 22, 2013, 3:47pm

TYLER - A 72-year-old woman has sued the Texas Department of Criminal Justice claiming she was terminated after 19 years of employment because she failed an agility test. 

Viola Burchfield filed suit against TDCJ on April 17 in the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division.

Burchfield is a female employee of the defendant’s and claims she is a victim of gender discrimination employment policies and practices.

The 72-year-old woman, who was employed by the defendant for nearly 19 years, was required to perform a physical agility test. The test involved climbing a ladder, running around the gym in under 2 ½ minutes and sit-ups. When Burchfield did not pass the entire physical agility test, she was terminated, according to the suit.

She claims that the test was not job related, nor consistent with business necessity. According to the lawsuit, her job duties were not very active and included paper work, phone calls and observations of visits.

The defendant is also accused of violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act

The plaintiff is asking for an award of damages for back and front pay, interest, liquidated damages, mental distress, emotional pain and suffering, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, punitive damages, attorney’s fees and court costs.

Burchfield is represented by Tyler attorney Bob Whitehurst. A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Michael H. Schneider is assigned to the case.

Case No. 6:13-cv-00331

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