Skip to comments.Firefighters' civil rights case could reshape hiring policies
Posted on 04/09/2009 6:24:37 AM PDT by reaganaut1
Frank Ricci -- a firefighter in New Haven, Conn. -- spent months listening to study tapes as he drove to work and in the evenings, preparing for a promotional test. It was a once-a-decade chance to move up to a command rank in the fire department.
Ricci earned a top score but no promotion.
The city had coded the test takers by race, and of the top 15 scorers, 14 were white and one was Latino. Since there were only 15 vacancies, it looked as though no blacks would be promoted.
After a racially charged debate that stretched over four hearings, the city's civil service board rejected the test scores five years ago and promoted no one.
"To have the city throw it out because you're white or because you're not African American is insulting," Ricci said when he and 19 other firefighters sued the city for racial discrimination.
Their case, scheduled to be argued this month, is the first to come before the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. that broadly raises the issue of race in the workplace. The outcome could reshape hiring and promotion policies for millions of the nation's public employees -- and possibly for private employers as well.
Roberts, leading a five-justice majority, has made clear that he believes it is time to forbid the use of race as a factor in the government's decisions.
The Obama administration, taking its first stand on race and civil rights, sided with the city officials and said they were justified in dropping the test if it had "gross exclusionary effects on minorities." While blacks make up about 31% of New Haven's 221 firefighters, 15% are officers -- eight of the department's 42 lieutenants and one of its 18 captains.
(Excerpt) Read more at latimes.com ...
I'd suspect that in just about any spot in America, except New Haven, CT, this gentleman would have been considered a "qualifying minority" if he'd made the claim.
What they never talk about is that white guys get beat by other white guys on every single test too.
***In my experience in the Fire Department is that the minority applicant is very capable of achieving the same results as the white candidate, just not always willing to study as hard to achieve the score.***
How could a firefighters’ exam possibly be race biased?
” it is time to forbid the use of race as a factor in the government’s decisions.”
In the ‘80s, I went to school to become a computer tech. I scored 100% on all my tests. The school had new textbooks that were filled with errors. I was the one who corrected those errors, and got a letter from the school’s parent company thanking me for doing it. I earned the highest grade point the school had ever given. The instructor was leaving to go to the Lewis Space Center. He wanted me to go with him, and wrote a letter recommending they hire me. Guess what? They hired a black woman instead of me! She was 20% behind me grade-wise. All of the Aframs were hired, regardless of their grades. Then white women. I ended up working night shift in a sheet metal factory.
A little more on this story:
The test was designed to narrow the field among potential candidates for seven openings for fire department captains and eight vacancies for lieutenants. Forty-one applicants competed for the captain jobs. Seventy-seven applicants vied for the lieutenant positions.
The city yielded to political pressure from a vocal African-American minister and supporter of New Haven Mayor John DeStefano. The minister had been urging more diversity among managers at the fire department, a goal shared by city officials.
There is no indication in the court record that overt race discrimination played a role in the failure of the 27 African-American job applicants (eight for captain, 19 for lieutenant) to pass a test that had been designed to help them perform well.
“We are not unsympathetic to the plaintiffs’ expression of frustration,” the panel of the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Judge Arterton’s ruling wrote. “Mr. Ricci, for example, who is dyslexic, made intensive efforts that appear to have resulted in his scoring highly on one of the exams, only to have it invalidated. But it simply does not follow that he has a viable Title VII claim.”
I’ve read the USSC briefs on this case. The firefighters are going to win big.
I thought race wasn’t real, so how do they tell in this kind of circumstance? Has anybody asked?
“The city had coded the test takers by race,”
Someone is pushing to remove racial bias from public jobs. I’ll bet Jesse Jackson and ACLU jump in with their support for this guy. /s
Fred Sanford: I’ll do it, but on one condition.
Lamont Sanford: And that is?
Fred Sanford: I want a white dentist.
Lamont Sanford: What did you say?
Fred Sanford: You heard me, I want a white dentist.
Lamont Sanford: Well what makes you think you’re going to get a black dentist?
Fred Sanford: You said it was a free clinic, didn’t you? Where you think you’re gonna find a black dentist? In Beverly Hills?
Lamont Sanford: Wasn’t you the guy who told me once that you didn’t want nothing white but milk?
Fred Sanford: Well my tooth wasn’t hurting then. I want the best available dentist for my tooth. Now just by coincidence, the best dentist schools are of the white people, by the white people, and for the white people. Now don’t it seem likely that the best dentist would be white? White dentist, please?
Anyone interested in reading the filings in this case can go here:
By now, after 40+ years, it should be obvious, even to the densest, that reverse discrimination is a two-edged sword; in the legal arena it might seem to "work." In the real world, customers and patients vote with their feet and with their wallets.
Result? Truly competent and excellent minority professionals, and there must be many of them, are (unfairly) tainted with the uncertainty of competence. That's the difference between politics and science, and here is not the only milieu where it appears.
Fred Sanford: IMHO, last of a special breed of humorist.
Because they "axe" questions :-P