Judge Says Exam Didn't Discriminate Against Black Officers

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

U.S. District Judge Tom S. Lee concluded the lawsuit was without merit.

The officers claimed the city violated a section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other federal laws by implementing the test, which determined the officers that would be promoted to sergeant. The plaintiffs were seeking $12.6 million in damages.

Of 147 applicants who took the test in 1998, 106, or 72 percent, were black and 41, or 28 percent, were white. However, of the 47 applicants who passed the test, 47 percent were black and 53 percent were white.

After the test was given, the plaintiffs filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In February 1999, after eight white officers and seven black officers were promoted to sergeant, the EEOC issued a right-to-sue letter.

Two months before the letter was issued, the U.S. Justice Department wrote that although it did not object to the promotion procedure, it wanted the city to reconsider its procedure for determining the pass point on the written exam.

The Justice Department also wrote that the exam had an adverse impact on black candidates.

Lee wrote in an August 7 order that the city's witnesses explained that while they were aware of the Justice Department's comments, they believed those comments related to future exams and interpreted those comments as approving the exam results for that round of promotions.

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