Baltimore County officials deny in a new court filing that they have engaged in employment discrimination against African Americans who applied to become police officers.

County attorneys wrote in the filing that the county selection process and policies are “neutral, fair and justified. The document is in response to the recent federal Justice Department lawsuit alleging that the county used a written test that discriminated against black applicants.

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“Baltimore County did not unlawfully discriminate in its selection criteria, policies, and practices for hiring,” county attorneys wrote in the answer filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court. “All of the screening and selection criteria and hiring policies and practices used by Baltimore County are job-related and consistent with business necessity, and meets the requirements of the law.”

The Justice Department lawsuit alleges that the county has engaged in a “pattern or practice of discrimination” by using a written exam that African Americans failed at a greater rate than whites. The lawsuit alleges that the exam was not job-related.

The county filing asks the court to dismiss the complaint. It also says there was a “failure to properly exhaust administrative remedies and the conciliation process,” which is a legal process of resolving employment discrimination charges before litigation.

T.J. Smith, a spokesman for County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr., said the filing “speaks for itself” and that officials had no further comment.

The county previously announced that will no longer administer the exam in question.

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