Dayton officials are poised to toss out 748 passing police-hiring exam scores and conduct oral interviews to improve minority hiring for the city’s police department.
At first glance, the situation in Dayton seems to resemble the case in Ricci v. DeStefano, a 2009 U.S. Supreme Court case in which white firefighters successfully argued that the city of New Haven, Conn., shouldn’t have thrown out promotion test results just because it feared the test would have a disparate impact on black firefighters.
There are important differences, however.
In 2009, Dayton settled a U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit that claimed the city’s hiring policies discriminated against blacks seeking police and firefighter jobs. That’s when the city lowered the passing grade to include more minorities.
Dayton’s situation is different than the case argued in Ricci, which was widely seen as a rebuke of reverse discrimination. In Ricci, New Haven used statistics to argue that past policies had been discriminatory. It essentially called a penalty on itself.
In Dayton, the Justice Department has already concluded that the city discriminated—and the settlement mandated scrapping the test results.