Justice Department Settles Lawsuit Against the City of Dayton, Ohio, Alleging Discrimination...

Thu Feb 26, 2009 5:41pm EST

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

Justice Department Settles Lawsuit Against the City of Dayton, Ohio, Alleging
Discrimination Against African Americans in the Hiring of Police Officers and
Firefighters

WASHINGTON, Feb. 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Department of Justice
announced today that it has entered into a consent decree with the city of
Dayton that, if approved by the court, will resolve the Department's complaint
that Dayton has been engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination
against African-Americans in its hiring of entry-level police officers and
firefighters, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title
VII).

Title VII prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color,
sex, national origin or religion.  Title VII prohibits not only intentional
discrimination, but also the use of employment practices (e.g. written
examinations and qualification standards), which result in disparate impact,
unless the employer can prove that such practices are job related and
consistent with business necessity.

The United States' complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the
Southern District of Ohio in September 2008, alleges that Dayton's use of an
internally created written examination for screening entry-level police
officer applicants, and its use of heightened minimum qualifications for
entry-level firefighter applicants, i.e. requiring that applicants have
EMT-Basic and Firefighter I and II certifications at the time they apply,
resulted in disparate impact on African-Americans.  The complaint also alleges
that neither practice has been demonstrated by the city of Dayton to be job
related and consistent with business necessity, in accordance with the
requirements of Title VII.  According to the complaint, although the civilian
labor force of Dayton is approximately 37 percent African-American, only
approximately nine percent of the city's sworn police officers and less than 3
percent of its sworn firefighters are African-American.  In fact, according to
the complaint, the percentage of African-Americans in the city's fire
department actually decreased from 7 percent in 1984 to less than 3 percent in
2008.  

The consent decree requires that the city of Dayton no longer use the
selection practices challenged in the complaint for screening and hiring
police officers and firefighters, and requires that the city develop new
selection procedures for hiring police officers and firefighters that comply
with Title VII.  Additionally, the consent decree requires that the city of
Dayton pay $450,000 into a settlement fund that will be used to make awards of
back pay to African-Americans who were harmed by the selection practices
challenged by the United States and who are determined to be eligible for
relief.  Four African-Americans who passed the city's written police officer
examination, but whose hiring was delayed due to the city's rank-order use of
the written examination scores, will each be offered $18,900 from the
settlement fund, retroactive seniority for all purposes except for
time-in-grade required for promotion, and the opportunity to receive
retroactive pension credit.  Additional African-Americans determined to be
eligible for relief under the consent decree may receive a priority offer of
employment from the city, a monetary award of back pay from the settlement
fund, retroactive seniority for all purposes except for time-in-grade required
for promotion and/or retroactive pension credit.  The consent decree requires
the city of Dayton to hire up to five eligible African-American claimants as
police officers and up to nine eligible African-American claimants as
firefighters.  Under the decree, Dayton maintains the opportunity to screen
the claimants eligible for consideration for priority hire to ensure that they
meet the lawful qualifications for the positions required of all other police
officers and firefighters.

"This settlement agreement sends a clear message that hiring practices that
have discriminatory impact on account of race will not be tolerated," said
Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.
"The Department commends the city of Dayton for working cooperatively to
resolve this case without protracted litigation, to put in place new selection
practices for police officers and firefighters that comply with Title VII and
to provide relief to those African-Americans who have been harmed by the
city's hiring practices challenged by the Department."

According to the complaint, approximately 68 percent of white candidates, but
only approximately 29 percent of African-American candidates, passed the city
of Dayton's most recent written police officer examination; and the scores of
passing African-American candidates on that exam were lower than those of
their white counterparts.  In addition, of the 60 police officers the city
appointed from the eligibility list that resulted from is most recent police
officer examination, only four, or less than seven percent, were
African-American.  

The complaint also alleges that, since 2004, when the city began requiring
that firefighter applicants have Emergency Medical Technician-Basic and
Firefighter I and Firefighter II certifications to be considered for hire, the
percentage of African-American applicants dropped significantly.  While
African Americans comprised 20 percent of all firefighter applicants in 2000,
and approximately 25 percent of all firefighter applicants in 2002,
African-Americans comprised only about 6 percent of all firefighter applicants
to take the city's most recent written firefighter examination, which was
administered in 2005.

More information about Title VII and other federal employment laws is
available on the Department of Justice Web site at
http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/emp/index.html



SOURCE  U.S. Department of Justice

U.S. Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs, +1-202-514-2007, TDD:
+1-202-514-1888
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