In another move toward a more post-racial America, the Obama Administration filed suit against the city of Jacksonville, Florida and the local firefighters union there. The complaint says that the written test used in part for certain firefighter promotions has a “disparate impact” on blacks because blacks have fared statistically worse and often not promoted if they do pass the written test because they may still score lower than their white counterparts in their testing classes.
Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez says the U.S. Department of Justice’s goal of “make-whole relief” – involving a new testing regime on top of back pay, retroactive seniority and promotions – “should send a clear message to all public employers that employment practices that have the effect of excluding qualified candidates on account of race will not be tolerated.”
But… there wasn’t someone telling them they could not advance solely due to the color of their skin. It was a test administered by a third-party company. To make things even harder for Perez and Obama to justify in this post-racial era is that it appears more than one testing service was used for some of the testing.
The union is named, by the way, because they are included in setting up the testing process. And, so as to add a conspiratorial air to the issue, there are allegations that the union is cheating and showing favoritism to its white members.
Justice appears to think the written tests are too arbitrary and “not sufficiently job-related.”
Project 21 spokesman Horace Cooper has a different take on the cause. Maybe it goes back further. Maybe the culprit is a poor public teaching regime and not a corrupt fire department that is holding some people back – black and white and any other race – when it comes to something like test comprehension. Horace says:
While the Supreme Court has upheld in the early ‘70s the ability of people to claim discrimination merely because they don’t do well on work place tests, it is really time to reassess whether that should continue. The problem isn’t the workplace tests, the problem is poor public schools that don’t prepare minority students for competition. Why do we not acknowledge that rather than punish employers?