Fallout From Ricci V. Destafano

In Decmeber 2009, the City of Bridgeport, Connecticut settled a reverse discrimination lawsuit with 11 white and 1 Hispanic firefighters relating to a promotion exam. The original weightings on the exam (50% written, 45% oral & 5% seniority) were altered to 25% written, 70% oral & 5% seniority. The newspaper account of this settlement (see link below) states that the re-weighting of the exams allowed more minorities to pass. This account is plainly mistaken. In a letter to the Personnel Director of the Bridgeport CSC dated September 9, 2007, Dr. James L. Outtz, the test developer, explained that the re-weighting was based on an item in the oral component relating to emergency situations which, if failed, could result “in serious bodily injury or death to another person including fire personnel.” Outtz explained that the original scoring indicated promotion of 19 whites, 1 African American, and two Hispanics, and that there was no adverse impact. The re-weighting did not alter the demographic composition of the anticipated promotions. The newspaper account was correct on one issue --- the settlement is clearly fallout from the Supreme Court’s ruling in Ricci. Look for a more detailed discussion of the events surrounding this settlement by Outtz, Gutman & Dunleavy in the April 2010 issue of TIP (at http://www.siop.org/).


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