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Fire Service - Reverse Discrimination Hiring Practices

             In November and December of 2003 the New Haven Fire Department administered promotional exams for both Captain and Lieutenant. In an effort to try to maintain equality and fairness in conjunction with title VII of the Civil Rights act of 1964, the city hired IO Solutions Inc. They were to design the exams to be free of any racial bias in order to avoid any potential implications concerning disparate impact on a protected minority group. This was important to the city because of the large protected population of protected minority groups (nearly 60% of the population are either African American or Hispanic) that live in the city. .
             Unfortunately the city of New Haven was not pleased with the results of the test and failed to certify the results. The result of this decision would result in a reverse discrimination lawsuit "Ricci v. Destefano (07-1428); Ricci v. Destefano(08-328) that would eventually find its way to the United States Supreme Court in a ruling in favor of the plaintiff Mr. Ricci. It was decided that indeed, reverse discrimination had taken place and had cost qualified applicants an opportunity to promote and further their careers. The irony of course, is that in an attempt to not discriminate and comply with Title VII the city was found to have had discriminated against the qualified applicants. .
             Multicultural Problem.
             The fire service and public safety in general has had a long and sordid past when it comes to discrimination in the work place. There are documented cases of public fire departments including New Haven having openly discriminated against minorities in the past. With the advancement of equal rights and more importantly Congress's extension of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to cover public employment in 1972, a conscious effort has been made by many departments nationwide focus on non-discriminatory hiring practices. I would like to believe that this has happened because it is the right thing to do.

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