Ricci v. DeStefano|
HRM 370-50 Employment Law|
This is a look at the landmark Ricci v. DeStefano case. We will look at the case itself, the cases that influenced it as the cases that have been influenced by it. We will also look at a few different views of what the decision means for the future. |
Many people believe that the decision for Ricci v. DeStefano added to the confusion and misunderstandings of Affirmative Action as well as the Civil Rights Act of 1991 and disparate-impact discrimination. This case has been looked at as a reverse discrimination case, and although some observers feel it was a needed decision for reverse discrimination, others feel that it will only make things more difficult for employers who want to protect themselves from liability under Title VII. Ricci v. DeStefano Case Summary
In 2003, the City of New Haven, Connecticut administered written examinations in an effort to fill vacant lieutenant and captain positions in its Fire Department. The written exams were to account for sixty-percent of the ultimate assessment of a candidate's ability to successfully serve as a lieutenant or captain. Forty-percent of an individual's assessment consisted of an oral exam evaluating a candidate's ability to lead others in emergency situations. When New Haven officials analyzed the written test results, they found that the pass rate for black candidates was approximately half the pass rate of white candidates. New Haven's City Charter requires that the Board of Fire Commissioners use civil service examinations based on a "Rule of Three," where only the top three highest scoring candidates on each of the lieutenant and captain exams may be awarded a promotion. Under the Rule of Three, no black candidates could be awarded a promotion, since none of the top three highest scores on either test belonged to an African-American. The highest scoring black candidate for the lieutenant position was thirteenth; the highest scoring black candidate for the captain position was fifteenth. City officials referred the issue of the test results to New Haven's Civil Service Board, which is composed of five members who are responsible for overseeing New Haven's civil service examinations and assessing test results before certifying eligible candidates for promotion. The Board held public hearings to determine whether they would certify a list of eligible candidates. The Board's certified list of eligible candidates was to consist of individuals who scored seventy-percent or higher on the written exam. The Board heard evidence regarding the test results' disparate and adverse impact on blacks. "Disparate impact" is a "theory of liability that prohibits an employer from using a facially neutral employment practice that has an unjustified adverse impact on members of a protected class." Ultimately, the Board was deadlocked on the issue of whether to certify a list of eligible candidates for promotion, based on the test results. Because of the deadlock, the Board did not certify any list of eligible candidates. Frank Ricci and other firefighters who were among the top scorers and thus eligible for immediate promotion, sued New Haven's mayor, John DeStefano, and other city officials under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, alleging violation of the Equal Protection Clause. The federal district court granted DeStefano summary judgment, dismissing Ricci's Title VII and equal protection claims. In a 7-6 decision, the Second Circuit affirmed the district court's rulings and denied a re-hearing. The case then went to the Supreme Court. (McConnell & Pierre) The issue before the court is whether city officials trying to diversify a civil service department are guilty of racial discrimination under the Equal Protection Clause or Title VII when they decide not to utilize written test results which favor one racial class over another, and whether an employer violated US...