The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the city of New Haven, Conn., violated the rights of white and Hispanic firefighters who took promotion exams when it refused to use the test results to promote the highest scorers.
The court ruled that the city could not use “[f]ear of litigation alone” to justify rejecting the results simply because the test appeared to have a disparate impact on another minority—namely the black firefighters who took the test.
The case was Ricci v. DeStefano, No. 07–1428, U.S. Supreme Court, 2009.
The infamous exams
In 2003, the city of New Haven administered exams, designed by a third-party contractor, to firefighters seeking promotion to lieutenant and captain.
After the tests, the New Haven Civil Service Board (CSB) certified a ranked list of applicants who passed. The city charter required the “rule of three,” which meant that anyone selected for promotion had to be among the three can...(register to read more)