Reverse Discrimination Suit

MJS

Administrator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2003
Messages
30,187
Reaction score
430
Location
Cromwell,CT
This article was in my local paper a while ago.
http://www.courant.com/news/local/nh/hc-ap-ct-firefighters-lawsmar26,0,2462013.story

I think it'll be interesting to see how this turns out. Now, for the record I'm not prejudice, as I have black and hispanic friends. However, I will say that I feel that the best person suited for the job should be hired. It should be their score on the test that makes the deciding vote, not the color of their skin.

Thoughts?
 

Sukerkin

Have the courage to speak softly
MT Mentor
Lifetime Supporting Member
MTS Alumni
Joined
Sep 15, 2006
Messages
15,325
Reaction score
493
Location
Staffordshire, England
That is indeed an interesting situation to keep an eye on.
 

granfire

Sr. Grandmaster
Joined
Dec 8, 2007
Messages
15,997
Reaction score
1,605
Location
In Pain
They got the job already, ut do not feel the need to improve to advance...

I find that scenario scary. I don't care what color or heritage a person is, but you have to show up and do the job you are paid for.
 

Bob Hubbard

Retired
MT Mentor
Founding Member
Lifetime Supporting Member
MTS Alumni
Joined
Aug 4, 2001
Messages
47,245
Reaction score
772
Location
Land of the Free
Which one is the one who is most qualified?

Not which one filled the available "reserved for minority regardless of qualifications, scores, etc" spot.
 
OP
M

MJS

Administrator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2003
Messages
30,187
Reaction score
430
Location
Cromwell,CT
Is that clear? If you were in a fire, would you want the guy with the highest SATs helping you, or the guy with the coolest nerves?

I have no idea what the firefighter test is like. Then again, this case in question was for a promotional exam, so I'm sure it consists of more than the basic test.

However, for the sake of argument, I'll use the police exam as an example, as I'm more familiar with that. Now, all the tests really don't play 100% of the deciding factor, due to the fact that once you get out of the academy, that street training is whats going to help with the learning process.

However, the tests do test the person on the basics of the job. Ex: There is usually an English portion on the test, where they'll give you 4 paragraphs, pretty much worded the same, but there are 3 with grammar errors and 1 that is correct. This plays a part when writing reports. Do you want to go to court and look like a fool, because your grammar sucks or look professional, when the lawyer, judge, etc. is reviewing documents?

There is a memory section. They'll give you 5 min to memorize a series of faces and then ask a series of questions on each face. If you can't remember simple things on a test, what're you going to do on the job?

My point of all this....I want someone who knows what they're doing. I don't care if they're white, black, pink or green with polka dots....but they need to earn their position, not be awarded it because the city needs to fill a minority quota.
 

Kacey

Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Jan 3, 2006
Messages
16,462
Reaction score
227
Location
Denver, CO
Like other social issues, the concept behind racial quotas has merit - but the execution of the law creates other problems. In an ideal world, color would not matter... but unfortunately, this is not an ideal world; if it were, we wouldn't be having this discussion, as the need for it would never have arisen.

There is no quick, easy answer - but I will say that should I ever need to be rescued by a firefighter, LEO, or anyone in any related field, I'd much rather be rescued by the most qualified, and not the one who filled the quota.
 

arnisador

Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Aug 28, 2001
Messages
44,573
Reaction score
456
Location
Terre Haute, IN
My point of all this....I want someone who knows what they're doing.

I agree--especially where public safety is at issue. My point is that it isn't perfectly clear to me that a written test is the best way to select the person, so it isn't obvious that the best person(s) have been discriminated against here. If MartialTalk was run based on a grammar test, Kaith would now be a "Banned User"!

That having been said, those suing seem to have a good case to me.
 

Phoenix44

Master of Arts
Joined
Mar 20, 2004
Messages
1,616
Reaction score
68
Location
Long Island
Interesting case; I'm watching this one, too. I don't see how the Supreme Court can support throwing out a test because it didn't yield the desired racial spread. To me, it's obvious discrimination, "reverse" or otherwise. According to an article I read in the NY Times, the exam is not the only criterion for promotion, but the position does have to be offered to one of the top scorers on the exam.

I think it's going to be really hard to show that there is pervasive anti-black bias in the fire department for a few reasons:

1) The proportion of black entry level firefighters in the New Haven Fire Dept (32%) is approximately proportional to the black population of the city (34%).

2) The number of black supervisors is only 15%, which is not proportional, but it also isn't zero or only token.

3) There is evidence that the Fire Department took extra care to make the test race-neutral.

4) Many black firefighters did pass the exam--but not at the same rate or scores as white firefighters.

I don't know the details of the exam, and I don't know if it is a "valid" criterion for promotion, but nevertheless, it is a criterion. Under the circumstances, I don't see how you can legitimately say that it should be thrown out because the spread of grades didn't come out the way you wanted it.

I agree that it is desirable to attempt to correct decades (or centuries) of pervasive racial bias, but I think the fire department is idiotic to use this inflammatory mechanism for acheiving their racial goal, whatever it is. I think a far better way would be to offer remedial or prep course to all candidates, and then let the test results stand. The International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters could offer additional courses to their own members. It makes much more sense to try to raise everyone up to the desired level of knowledge, maybe getting a more skilled fire department in the process. And maybe everyone could try to figure out why the black firefighters didn't do as well--look at things like possible racial bias in the test, how much studying people did for the exam, and firefighting experience of the test takers.

I can't stand Chief Justice Roberts, but I do have to agree with his statement:

The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
 
OP
M

MJS

Administrator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2003
Messages
30,187
Reaction score
430
Location
Cromwell,CT
I agree--especially where public safety is at issue. My point is that it isn't perfectly clear to me that a written test is the best way to select the person, so it isn't obvious that the best person(s) have been discriminated against here. If MartialTalk was run based on a grammar test, Kaith would now be a "Banned User"!

That having been said, those suing seem to have a good case to me.

I would imagine that a promotional exam is going to consist of questions that are testing the persons knowledge of things that he may face in a supervisory position. Of course, sometimes a test and actually doing things hands on can have varying results. A quick example. A while back, I was helping to train one of our new dispatchers. I'd give him written questions of various situations he'll most likely see when he's on his own. For he most part, he had no issue with the questions, yet, when I was watching him under live conditions, most of the time he'd crumble under pressure.

So in this case, the written test did not reflect his real time skills. Yet one has to wonder why he was having difficulty.

So in this case with the FD, one could say that just because he didn't do well on the written, doesnt mean that at a live fire, he would perform just fine.

But are tests not used for everything? School, Arnis, Kenpo...they all have tests. So if the student sucks on the test, when they're under pressure, will they suck when they really need to use their skill to save their tail?

If tests are not the best measureing tool, what is?
 

Carol

Crazy like a...
MT Mentor
Lifetime Supporting Member
MTS Alumni
Joined
Jan 16, 2006
Messages
20,311
Reaction score
541
Location
NH
I know the LEOs here grow a little weary when they hear "my cousin is a cop" so I'm going to tread lightly when I say I have a cousin that's a firefighter. ;)

I don't know all there is to know about being a firefighter. What I do know is that it takes more than cool nerves and a strong back to be an effective one. Firefighters have to have knowledge of the structure of autos and buildings, as well as the types of emergencies they face. That could mean knowing how to address a fire at a chemical plant that may store many hazardous compounds, or how to minimize the risk of electricution if using the jaws of life on a hybrid car. With promotions comes the responsibility to send other people in to dangerous situations.

That being said...the article in the Hartford Courant was very short, and it left me thinking there might be more to the story than what was being reported.
 

arnisador

Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Aug 28, 2001
Messages
44,573
Reaction score
456
Location
Terre Haute, IN
So in this case, the written test did not reflect his real time skills. Yet one has to wonder why he was having difficulty.

I don't know. But I'm confident that I'd score better on a written test about arnis than would the head of my org., despite that fact that if we both had sticks in our hands he'd thrash me pretty good.
 

jarrod

Senior Master
Joined
Jul 7, 2008
Messages
2,172
Reaction score
96
Location
Denver
just want to point out that there is no such thing as reverse discrimination. someone is either being discriminated against or they're not. the color of the victim's skin doesn't matter.

jf
 

granfire

Sr. Grandmaster
Joined
Dec 8, 2007
Messages
15,997
Reaction score
1,605
Location
In Pain
just want to point out that there is no such thing as reverse discrimination. someone is either being discriminated against or they're not. the color of the victim's skin doesn't matter.

jf


While true, it's not how the unwashed masses understand the term discrimination. :)
 

CoryKS

Senior Master
Joined
Aug 30, 2006
Messages
4,403
Reaction score
183
Location
Olathe, KS
Since it appears from the article that the city did throw out the promotions based on race rather than performance, I think the suit is merited. However, I disagree with the idea expressed on this thread that an employer is obligated to hire or retain "the best person for the job," based on scores or qualifications. There are a lot of factors that would make someone eligible. For instance, a candidate with less experience might be more desirable if he is asking a lower price than another.

Look at it another way. The Apple iPod might be the best music player on the market, but I'm not required to buy one if a SanDisk will suit my needs at half the price. Sure the interface is clunkier, but I got an FM tuner, which is nice. The point is, only I can decide which product is the best for me, which features are necessary and which are less important.

Same thing should apply for screening employees. You may not need the best. Maybe you're willing to settle for "good enough", provided that it comes with a modest pricetag.
 
OP
M

MJS

Administrator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2003
Messages
30,187
Reaction score
430
Location
Cromwell,CT
just want to point out that there is no such thing as reverse discrimination. someone is either being discriminated against or they're not. the color of the victim's skin doesn't matter.

jf

True. However, I think the point of this suit was showcasing how this time it was a group of whites and 1 hispanic that was filing the suit. In the majority of discrimination suits I've seen lately, its been the other way around.
 
Top