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Press Release

Justice Department Settles Lawsuit Against the City of Dayton, Ohio, Alleging Discrimination Against African Americans in the Hiring of Police Officers and Firefighters

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

WASHINGTON - The Department of Justice announced today that it has entered into a consent decree with the city of Dayton that, if approved by the court, will resolve the Department’s complaint that Dayton has been engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against African-Americans in its hiring of entry-level police officers and firefighters, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII).

Title VII prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin or religion. Title VII prohibits not only intentional discrimination, but also the use of employment practices (e.g. written examinations and qualification standards), which result in disparate impact, unless the employer can prove that such practices are job related and consistent with business necessity.

The United States’ complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio in September 2008, alleges that Dayton’s use of an internally created written examination for screening entry-level police officer applicants, and its use of heightened minimum qualifications for entry-level firefighter applicants, i.e. requiring that applicants have EMT-Basic and Firefighter I and II certifications at the time they apply, resulted in disparate impact on African-Americans. The complaint also alleges that neither practice has been demonstrated by the city of Dayton to be job related and consistent with business necessity, in accordance with the requirements of Title VII. According to the complaint, although the civilian labor force of Dayton is approximately 37 percent African-American, only approximately nine percent of the city’s sworn police officers and less than 3 percent of its sworn firefighters are African–American. In fact, according to the complaint, the percentage of African-Americans in the city’s fire department actually decreased from 7 percent in 1984 to less than 3 percent in 2008.

The consent decree requires that the city of Dayton no longer use the selection practices challenged in the complaint for screening and hiring police officers and firefighters, and requires that the city develop new selection procedures for hiring police officers and firefighters that comply with Title VII. Additionally, the consent decree requires that the city of Dayton pay $450,000 into a settlement fund that will be used to make awards of back pay to African-Americans who were harmed by the selection practices challenged by the United States and who are determined to be eligible for relief. Four African-Americans who passed the city’s written police officer examination, but whose hiring was delayed due to the city’s rank-order use of the written examination scores, will each be offered $18,900 from the settlement fund, retroactive seniority for all purposes except for time-in-grade required for promotion, and the opportunity to receive retroactive pension credit. Additional African-Americans determined to be eligible for relief under the consent decree may receive a priority offer of employment from the city, a monetary award of back pay from the settlement fund, retroactive seniority for all purposes except for time-in-grade required for promotion and/or retroactive pension credit. The consent decree requires the city of Dayton to hire up to five eligible African-American claimants as police officers and up to nine eligible African-American claimants as firefighters. Under the decree, Dayton maintains the opportunity to screen the claimants eligible for consideration for priority hire to ensure that they meet the lawful qualifications for the positions required of all other police officers and firefighters.

"This settlement agreement sends a clear message that hiring practices that have discriminatory impact on account of race will not be tolerated," said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The Department commends the city of Dayton for working cooperatively to resolve this case without protracted litigation, to put in place new selection practices for police officers and firefighters that comply with Title VII and to provide relief to those African-Americans who have been harmed by the city’s hiring practices challenged by the Department."

According to the complaint, approximately 68 percent of white candidates, but only approximately 29 percent of African-American candidates, passed the city of Dayton’s most recent written police officer examination; and the scores of passing African-American candidates on that exam were lower than those of their white counterparts. In addition, of the 60 police officers the city appointed from the eligibility list that resulted from is most recent police officer examination, only four, or less than seven percent, were African-American.

The complaint also alleges that, since 2004, when the city began requiring that firefighter applicants have Emergency Medical Technician-Basic and Firefighter I and Firefighter II certifications to be considered for hire, the percentage of African-American applicants dropped significantly. While African Americans comprised 20 percent of all firefighter applicants in 2000, and approximately 25 percent of all firefighter applicants in 2002, African-Americans comprised only about 6 percent of all firefighter applicants to take the city’s most recent written firefighter examination, which was administered in 2005.

More information about Title VII and other federal employment laws is available on the Department of Justice Web site at

Updated September 15, 2014

Press Release Number: 09-172