Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Discrimination Lawsuits

This reminded me of the New Haven case... Alex actually put up a question from similar tests given by the New York, so I recommend looking at the Marginal Revolution site.

The case, Lewis v. Chicago, involved alleged discrimination against African American applicants for the Chicago Fire Department who took a test in 1995. The department set a passing score of 64 on the exam. Applicants who scored at least 64 but below 89 were informed that they passed the test, but would probably not be hired given the number of candidates who scored 89 or above. [26,000 applied and there were only a few hundred jobs, AT]  Applicants scoring 89 and above were classified as "well qualified".

The majority of "well-qualified" applicants were white. Only 11 percent were black... 

The trial court sided with the black applicants, and ordered the city to hire 132 randomly selected African American applicants who scored above 64. The court also ordered the city to divide backpay owed among the rest of the black applicants.

White, Asian and Hispanic applicants who also scored above 64 but below the 89 standard were not offered employment or backpay.

Perhaps you are wondering about the tests?  You would be hard pressed to find any obvious racial bias.  I haven't found the Chicago test online but you can find similar tests from New York (also the subject of lawsuits) here.



also, from the comments:

"In Sweden there are physical requirements for becoming a firefighter. These tests are fairly tough and selective, as the physical requirements on firefighters sometimes help save lives.

Needless to say, the requirements are lower for women, as it would be "discriminatory" otherwise. Sometimes you just have to wonder about the mental health of people deciding these things..."


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