The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Will Matthews, (212) 549-2582 or 2666;

Supreme Court Rules Connecticut Firefighters Unfairly Denied Promotions Because Of Race


U.S. Supreme Court today ruled that the City of New Haven, Connecticut
wrongly threw out a promotion examination for the city's firefighters,
saying there was not sufficient evidence that the exam's impact on
minorities violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The majority's rejection of New
Haven's basis for its actions - vigorously disputed in the dissent -
creates a new and more onerous standard for evaluating government
efforts to ensure equal opportunity. It is clear, however, that the
decision leaves intact Title VII's prohibition against both
discriminatory treatment and policies and practices that have a
discriminatory impact upon protected groups. The decision does not
require employers to accept test results that have a racially disparate
impact, but it makes it harder to reject them. Further, the decision
acknowledges a government agency's responsibility to invalidate test
results when there is a strong basis in evidence to believe that
relying on the tests would have an illegal disparate impact on minority

The following can be attributed to Dennis Parker, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union Racial Justice Program:

"We are disappointed with today's
decision because we believe that the city of New Haven had stronger
reasons for believing that its test was discriminatory than the court
acknowledged. However, the Court was clear today that employers need to
scrutinize their hiring procedures before administering them to ensure
that they are fair and non-discriminatory. Moreover, the decision
leaves room for employers to take steps voluntarily to assure that
discrimination in the workplace is eliminated and to guarantee that
efforts to assure fair and equal access to employment can continue."

A copy of today's decision is available online at:

Additional information about the ACLU Racial Justice Program is available online at:

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

(212) 549-2666