Association representing DPS troopers files lawsuit over 'waistline requirement'

A new policy limiting the size of DPS troopers’ waistlines is upsetting some, prompting the association representing them to file a lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit filed, the new policy went into effect last month, and requires DPS troopers to have a waist circumference of 40 inches for men, and 35 inches for women.

The association calls the policy "unreasonable" and "demeaning."

Troopers won't be tested on just their waistlines, they can also be compared to height, weight, and body composition charts, and have to go through physical fitness testing.

But the association representing DPS troopers says this new “waistline requirement” violates state statute, and they’re filing this lawsuit as a last resort.

The DPS Officer's Association is filing suit over a new waistline standard they say is discriminatory.

The association’s president called the new rule a “beautification.”

“Even though you are physically able to do your job, even though you have been doing your job, you've been passing your physical agility testing, if you don't look a certain way, then you have failed,” DPSOA President Lt. Richard Jankovsky said.

According to the lawsuit, if troopers don't meet the waistline standard, they can still be compared to height, weight, and body composition charts.

If they fail all three, then they fail the physical fitness test.

“It has taken an emotional toll to the point we have a female member somewhere in the state, through an anonymous survey we did, has put having children on hold as she doesn't want to be fired for being non-compliant,” Jankovsky added.

DPS troopers must also pass physical fitness testing, which can include rowing, running, and doing push-ups and crunches.

Even though the waistline requirement is just one part of testing, the association says it's concerning.

“You can be taken out of an enforcement role, that means you're taken out of uniform, lose the ability to work overtime,” Jankovsky explained.

Dr. Tim Church, who's researched almost 20 years about the relationship between waist circumference and health, gave an outside opinion on this policy.

“The size of your waist does not reflect how physically capable you are or are not. That's just the way it is,” Dr. Church said. “Again, look at so many athletes, they'll have a large waist, but be tremendously capable of doing physical things.”

Dr. Church did say that those with a higher waist circumference may be at higher risk for type 2 diabetes or heart disease.

“If we're talking about health, it'd be perfectly valid. But if we're talking about the ability to do a job, absolutely not,” Dr. Church said.

The association said it’s willing to work with DPS on a heart health program, but they're hoping a judge will put a stop to the waist requirement.

“we are different sizes, different shapes. Just because you don't look a certain way, doesn't mean you're not able to do your job,” Jankovsky said.

FOX4 reached out to the Department of Public Safety about the new policy and the lawsuit.

They said they're looking into it, but haven't been able to provide a response yet.