Just weeks after the Supreme Court decided in favor of New Haven firefighters who sued for reverse discrimination over a promotion exam, the city urged a commission to approve a police promotion list that includes no Hispanic candidates.
The Civil Service Commission went ahead, at the city’s urging, and certified results for police sergeant promotions that after discussion turned to the firefighters’ case that came before the same commission about five years ago.
The Supreme Court case stemmed for a 2003 exam to fill captain and lieutenant positions in which no black officer was among the top three scorers.
That led to an independent review board investigating whether the tests were racially biased. That city was concerned that certifying the results would leave them open for discrimination lawsuits from black firefighters, so it denied the promotions.
Instead, a group of one Hispanic and 19 white firefighters sued for reverse discrimination and ultimately won when the case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The justices ruled, 5 to 4, that the city was wrong to toss out a firefighter promotion list because no blacks passed the test.
In the recent police case, 21 black and 15 white candidates passed.
Before the vote, Civil Service Commissioner Anne Massaro said she did not oppose certifying the list but was uneasy that Hispanics were excluded, the New Haven Register reports.
In weighing what to do, commission member Frank LaDore brought up the Supreme Court decision.
“Just to talk about the elephant in the room. The Supreme Court decision with Ricci. There was disparate impact. Where do we go from here? Where does that leave us as a board?” LaDore said.
The president of the fraternal organization for Hispanic police officers told the newspaper he does not plan to challenge the results.
Six to nine sergeants are likely to be promoted next month, Police Chief James Lewis told the Register.