WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced today that it has reached an agreement with the City of Chesapeake, Va. regarding an employment discrimination lawsuit filed in 2006. Pending court approval, the consent decree will settle the government’s lawsuit that alleged that the city’s hiring practices for entry-level police officers have an unlawful disparate impact on African-American and Hispanic applicants, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000 et sec.
“Any test used to select public safety officers must select the best and most qualified candidates without unfairly screening out qualified candidates,” said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “We are pleased that the City of Chesapeake has taken steps to ensure that its hiring practices comply with the requirements of Title VII.”
The consent decree was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Title VII prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Title VII’s prohibitions extend to neutral hiring or employment practices that result in a disparate or unequal impact on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin and that are not “job-related” as defined by law.
The complaint alleged that the City of Chesapeake violated Title VII by using a mathematics test as a pass/fail screening device in its selection process for entry-level police officers. According to the complaint, the city’s pass/fail use of the mathematics test was not job-related because it did not predict whether an applicant was able to successfully perform the job of police officer. The city’s use of the test, however, resulted in a disparate impact on African-American or Hispanic job applicants. The Justice Department did not challenge any other parts of the police department’s entry-level police officer selection process.
Under the terms of the proposed consent decree, the City of Chesapeake will create a fund to provide back pay to African-American and Hispanic applicants who were denied employment solely because of the city’s use of the math test as a pass/fail screening device. The city also will provide priority job offers for African-American and Hispanic applicants who are currently qualified for the entry-level police officer job but were screened out solely because of their performance on the math test. The city will provide retroactive seniority to such hires when they complete the training academy. In addition, the city agreed that, while it will still use scores on the mathematics test in combination with applicants’ scores on other tests, it will not prospectively use the mathematics test as a stand alone pass/fail screening device.
The continued enforcement of Title VII is a priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Additional information about the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, is available at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/.