Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ricci II - Disparate Impact

I'm sure you remember Ricci v. DeStefano, the New Haven white firefighters case. In that case, the white firefighters filed a Title VII disparate treatment claim when the fire department refused to certify the results of a promotion test. The City argued it was afraid of a disparate impact claim because the results were statistically skewed against the black firefighters that took the test.


The Court held that skewed stats were no reason to ignore the results of the announced process for promotion. Instead the City needed a "strong basis in evidence to believe it will be subject to disparate-impact liability." The Court found that no such "strong basis in evidence existed" and granted summary judgment for the white firefighters. Well, guess what? Now, one of the black firefighters filed a lawsuit. Wanna guess his theory? Yup, disparate impact.

According to the New York Times, Michael Briscoe alleges the test was "was unfair because it undervalued the oral portion of the test, on which he did better." The promotion test was 60% written and 40% oral. Due to the high profile of the original case, I'm sure this one will get significant media attention if it gets any traction in Court.

UPDATE (10/17/09): A copy of the Complaint is available online (via Law Professor Blogs Network).

Additional Resources
Lawffice Space Coverage of Ricci v. DeStefano