The sergeant's exam used by the New Jersey
Department of Personnel has the joined the ever-growing list of tests to
be declared "discriminatory."
The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit
yesterday stating that the exam discriminates against African American
and Hispanic candidates.
Championing the suit, Assistant Attorney General of
the Civil Rights Division Thomas Perez said, "This complaint should send
a clear message to all public employers that employment practices with
unlawful discriminatory impact on account of race or national origin
will not be tolerated."
And so begins yet another saga.
Bottom line, NJDOP creates a book list, tells us
which books to study, and creates questions from the books on case law,
criminal law, traffic law, management, police procedures, etc. If
this is discriminatory, I would love to know exactly what they suggest
we should use as a barometer for promotion.
New Jersey’s civil service test for police officers seeking a
promotion to sergeant discriminates against African-American and
Hispanic candidates, according to a lawsuit filed by the U.S.
Department of Justice Thursday.
Even African-Americans and Hispanics who pass the multiple-choice
test are less likely to receive promotions because their scores are
lower, according to the 10-page lawsuit filed against the state and
the Civil Service Commission. The suit seeks to block the state from
using the test.
At least 120 municipal and county police departments in New
Jersey have used the discriminatory system from 2000 to 2008,
according to Department of Justice spokesman Alejandro Miyar.
Eighteen of the state’s 20 largest cities and townships,
including Newark, use the same test.
"This complaint should send a clear message to all public
employers that employment practices with unlawful discriminatory
impact on account of race or national origin will not be tolerated,"
said Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights
Division. "The Justice Department will take all necessary action to
ensure that such discriminatory practices are eliminated and that
the victims of such practices are made whole."
Civil Service Commission spokesman Mark Perkiss said the test is
developed internally and administered annually with different
questions each year. "We’ve been testing for this position for
decades," he said.
Perkiss did not comment on the contents of the test. He referred
questions on the lawsuit to the attorney general’s office, but the
spokesman there, David Wald, declined comment.
Newark Police Department spokesman Detective Hubert Henderson
said the approximately four-hour test covers traffic and criminal
laws, as well as state guidelines.
When preparing for the test, Henderson said, candidates study two
or three textbooks and sometimes take courses costing $2,500 to
$3,000. He said he’s never heard any discrimination complaints
involving the test.
The Department of Justice is arguing the state has violated Title
VII, which prohibits employment discrimination, because it hasn’t
proved that the test, which some departments require for promotions
to sergeant, is an essential tool for determing fitness for the job.
Between 2000 and 2008, 89 percent of the white candidates who
took the test passed it, compared to 73 percent of African-American
candidates and 77 percent of Hispanic candidates, the lawsuit says.
We will monitor and post updates on this case.