Most jobs don’t have physical fitness tests, but the FBI does — and one man who was denied a position as a special agent for doing 29 pushups instead of the required 30 is now suing the agency for gender discrimination.

Jay Bauer, who holds a doctorate from Northwestern University, joined the FBI in 2009. His lawsuit says he passed a fitness test before entering agent training, where he scored at or near the top of his class in everything from firearms training to academics and was even selected by his fellow trainees to be their class leader.

The trouble started when he had to pass another fitness test to gain admission to the FBI Academy. He was able to fulfill all the requirements except for one: doing 30 untimed pushups. He could only do 29, and was thus forced to resign from special agent training.

He now works as an FBI analyst, but has spent the last two years fighting to become an agent instead. His attorneys say the FBI’s fitness standards — which until 2003 required men to do only 25 pushups — are comparatively harder for males. Female trainees are required to complete 14 pushups, something a fitness consultant who works with the FBI says is equivalent to 27 to 29 for men.

Michelle Reese Andrew, one of Bauer’s lawyers, said, “My client is a reluctant plaintiff. He feels compelled to fight for what’s right here.”

[Chicago Tribune]