CASE 1.

Police Officers for Equal Rights v. City of Col., 644 F. Supp. 393 (S.D. Ohio 1985)

Facts

Plaintiffs brought this action alleging discrimination on the basis of race in the Defendant Columbus Division of Police. The Plaintiffs are a group of black police officers who have been victims of discrimination by the Defendant based on their race.

The Defendants include the City of Columbus and some of its staff. The City of Columbus is an employer by virtue of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act as amended by 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. It is worth noting that the City of Columbus was previously sued for its notoriety in violating laws regarding Equal Employment Opportunities. Notably, the number of black police officers in the City was not proportional to the population of blacks in the City. Besides, black police officers faced many challenges. The City also maintained discriminatory policies such as relegating black police officers to foot patrols in the City’s black neighborhoods, and preventing them to work on police vans. The discriminatory policies also affected the promotion of black police officers. In some cases, they were not being given radios. In that case, the Court observed that the City indeed had a history of discriminating upon its employees racially. The City was ordered to meet minority goals to ensure minority groups are given a fair chance in employment opportunities.

Procedure

The case was filed on April 26, 1976 by individual officers alleging the Defendants’ violation of Title VI and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq; 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and § 1983; and the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. However, in 1979, the action was classified as a class action when more Plaintiffs joined the suit.       On or about February 28, 1984, Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Dismiss their claims on U.S.C. § 1981 and § 1983, which motion the Court granted. Plaintiffs were also granted leave to file a Third Amended Complaint. The matter then proceeded to trial.

After the trial, Plaintiffs filed a motion seeking injunctive orders to prevent the City of Columbus from promoting some sergeants. The said motion was denied and closing arguments were made.

Issues

The pertinent issue raised in this case was whether the City violated Title VI and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act as amended by 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq law by their conduct, procedures, and policies.

Holding

            The Court held that the City of Columbus were liable for racial discrimination against the Plaintiffs.

Rationale

            In finding Defendants’ liability under Title VI, the Court determined that City of Columbus and the Columbus Division of Police were recipients of Federal Assistance and that Plaintiff had therefore satisfied the precondition under the said law. According to the Court, Defendants’ actions as alleged above amounted to intentional discrimination because the Defendants adopted policies knowing that the said policies would affect Plaintiffs negatively. . 

            On the other hand, in finding Defendants’ liability under Title VII, the Court relied on the disparate treatment theory. In this theory, Plaintiffs have a burden to show that the Defendants carried out acts which were discriminatory in nature. Accordingly, the Court found that Plaintiffs evidence on the discriminatory nature of Defendant’s policies was sufficient proof of such discrimination. Notably, the Court reasoned that the Defendant’s policies that left much room for the Defendant to exercise subjective judgment were improper because it did not favor black police officers.

Significance of the Case

            The case is important in that it provides that federal employers must consider the interests of all minority groups in setting up policies and terms of service. Further, such polices must align with the required provisions under the Civil Rights Act.

CASE 2.

Brunet v. City of Columbus, 642 F. Supp. 1214 (S.D.Ohio 1986)

 Facts

            The Plaintiffs filed a suit challenging a set of tests used by Defendant for entry-level firefighters. The Plaintiffs are females who took part in the said set of tests.

The firefighter examination at that time consisted of a written examination and a physical examination. Part of the physical test required the applicant’s to climb a ladder five stories high while being timed and descending using a bicycle ergometer which measured the applicants’ stress.   

            Accordingly, Plaintiffs made applications for the position of fire fighters and were subjected to the tests by the Defendants. When the results came, the Plaintiffs did not obtain the required score and were therefore left out from the selection of firefighters. In that regard, Plaintiffs filed the instant action challenging the tests alleging that they were discriminatory against female applicants.   They also alleged that the low score obtained by females in the tests explained why there were few female firefighters in the service. Lastly, they alleged that the said tests did not reflect the usual job of a firefighter.

Procedure

            The Plaintiffs initially brought this suit alleging Defendants ‘violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. However, the Complaint was amended to include 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims.

Issues

            Whether the tests adopted by Defendants had an adverse impact on female applicants, and were not related to the typical job of a firefighter.

Holding

            The court held that the tests adopted by the Defendants had an adverse impact on female applicants and were not related to the job of a firefighter. Accordingly, the court ordered the Defendants to develop a new test that will consider the real demands and abilities in the job. In the event the number of successful males still outdoes that of females under the new tests, the court stated that it would direct the Defendants to set aside a specific number of places for female applicants, in consideration of their abilities.

Rationale

            The Court stated categorically that this case did not involve an argument whether women should be firefighters or not. Instead, the court probed whether the tests applied by the Defendants violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. It follows; the Court analyzed the adverse impact theory in addressing the case. The court reasoned that the difference in performance of the applicants in the tests could not possibly reflect the difference in performance in the real job. The court also noted that the tests were a poor test of endurance and that it did not accurately represent the actual physical demands of the job. Besides, individuals showing great endurance but still score poorly would not be selected for the job. Notably, the court reasoned that a valid test should cover a wide range of abilities, which are relevant to the job.

Significance of the Case

            This case also shows that federal employers shall be held liable for entry tests that violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. Accordingly, federal employers must align their entry tests and procedure to meet the provisions under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq.

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