The City of Paterson, NJ is paying $80,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a fire captain who claimed he was given less desirable work assignments because he rejected private business propositions made by Paterson’s former fire chief, Michael Postorino. The captain, who is still a member of the fire department, suffered no financial loss as a result of the alleged retaliation. The fire chief in question has since retired.
Source: Paterson Press, December 11, 2019
Disparate Impact and "Reverse Discrimination"
Twenty-four Cleveland firefighters, all holding the rank of lieutenant, have filed a lawsuit against the City of Cleveland for disparate impact discrimination based on race. All of the firefighters identify as Caucasian by race, and two of them also identify with Hispanic ethnicity.
Disparate impact discrimination can occur when a protected class is disproportionately and negatively affected in an employment process, such as hiring or promotion. The EEOC established a formula in 1978 to guide employers regarding this type of discrimination. Disparate impact discrimination does not have to be intentional, although the plaintiffs in this case are saying that it was for the captain's promotional process that took place in 2017.
Specifically, the plaintiffs claim that the promotional test was not content-valid and that the results of the test unfairly favored African-American candidates, based on the statistical outcome of the promotional list. Sixty-six candidates completed the exam, including 44 Caucasians, 14 African-Americans, and three identifying as other. Of those, 52 people were posted to the eligibility list and 22 of those are likely to promote before the expiration of the list. Among those scheduled for promotion, 13 were Caucasian, 8 were African-American, and one identified as other.
The plaintiffs in the case claim that the city's prior commitment to improving racial diversity within the fire department gave it motive for unfairly skewing the results of the promotional process. Last fall, the EEOC accused Cleveland’s fire department of discriminating against blacks, Hispanics and women and threatened to sue if the city does not correct the violations.
It should be noted that this lawsuit was brought under federal Title VII employment discrimination law, the law that protects all employees. This case is a good example of how there really is no such thing as "reverse discrimination" under the law, although this might be one of the first times a disparate impact claim has been made by Caucasian males.
Source: John Donohoe et al v. City of Cleveland, Ohio, Cuyahoga Court of Common Pleas, #1894650
© Linda F. Willing, 2020