A group of white firefighters dubbed the New Haven 20 were the victims of illegal racial discrimination, according to a Supreme Court ruling today. The white firefighters lost promotions in New Haven, Connecticut after New Haven officials set aside results of a 2003 test after the officials learned no black firefighters were among the top scorers — and so were not eligible for promotions.
The 5-4 decision emphasized that employers should not rely on “raw racial statistics” to set aside a fair test, and that the primary goal of the Civil Rights Act is to remove race as a factor in hiring and promotions.
The decision overturned a ruling by Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor and two other judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York.
In 2008, the L.A. Weekly examined the Los Angeles Fire Department's recruitment policies that heavily favored hiring women firefighters over more qualified male candidates. The story also looked at the difficulties the fire department faced in trying to keep the women on the job.
That same year, Los Angeles firefighter Kevin Kearns started up a Web site that collects stories of men – many of them highly qualified candidates or experienced firefighters from other cities who have been rejected by the L.A. City fire department for unclear reasons.
The Web site, lafdnonselected.org, was prompted by fire department statistics showing that the small percentage of women who applied as firefighters were rushed through the application and written exam process in half the time faced by men who got stuck in a 22 to 29-month holding pattern.
So far, the Web site has chronicled 68 stories of male candidates disillusioned with the LAFD's hiring process.
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