This week the United States Supreme Court held that white firefighters in New Haven were unfairly discriminated against when the city would not promote two firefighters-even though they were qualified for the job- because they were white.
In 2003, exams were taken by firefighters in New Haven for two promotions of lieutenant and captain. When no black firefighters did well enough on the exam to be eligible for the promotion, the city threw out the test results and promoted no one. It is contended that the city did not want to promote two white firefighters out of fear of being sued by black firefighters for race discrimination.
In disregarding the test results, white firefighters argued that they were victims of "reverse discrimination," and the Supreme Court agreed. It ruled that fear of litigation alone is not a justification for the city's reliance on race to the detriment of those who passed the exam and qualified for the promotion. This ruling will have a huge impact on the employment world, and employers will now have to make very careful decisions in determining what role-if any-race can play in hiring or promoting their employees.