Physical Ability Test Validation

Physical Ability Test Validation


The client is an international airline and has been a federal contractor for many years. The vast majority of OFCCP audits for this client have closed with a letter of compliance. In the last few audits, OFCCP has focused on hiring criteria related to physical aspects of various jobs, but eventually all of these audits closed without major OFCCP allegations.

Business Challenge

The client now administers a physical ability test for ramp and cargo agent jobs as part of the hiring process.  The airline became the subject of another OFCCP compliance evaluation, and, as is common, the physical ability test produced an adverse impact against female applicants for cargo/ramp positions. At the time no validation study had been conducted to demonstrate job-relatedness, and the OFCCP compliance officer alleged that the federal contractor could not conduct one, and was guilty of discrimination.

DCI Solution

DCI recommended that the client respond by letting the OFCCP know that they are in the process of conducting a validation study, which is allowable under the regulations. DCI conducted a criterion related validity study and partnered with another firm to conduct a physical demands content-oriented study. Both were modeled after the Uniform Guidelines for Employee Selection Procedures (UGESP). The content validity study involved conducting a job analysis and linkage exercises between the job analysis results and the physical ability test. The criterion validity study focused on determining whether passing or failing the physical ability test predicted on-the-job injury outcomes.


Both studies were summarized via technical validation reports that were submitted to OFCCP’s testing expert. The content-oriented validity strategy demonstrated evidence of job relatedness by linking specific work duties to the physical ability test. The criterion validity strategy demonstrated statistically and practically significant relationships between the physical ability test and the likelihood of being injured on the job. As a result, the airline was able to demonstrate that though the physical ability test had an adverse impact against women, it was both job related and consistent with business necessity.  OFCCP’s testing expert approved the validation evidence and the audit closed with a letter of compliance.


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