On April 18, 2001, a white applicant to the St. Louis Fire Department filed a lawsuit against the City of St. Louis in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri alleging that the St. Louis Fire Department engaged in reverse discrimination against white applicants. He claimed he ...
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On April 18, 2001, a white applicant to the St. Louis Fire Department filed a lawsuit against the City of St. Louis in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri alleging that the St. Louis Fire Department engaged in reverse discrimination against white applicants. He claimed he was qualified for appointment as probationary fire private but was not hired due to the Department's remedial hiring practices that were established in a consent decree resolving a case of race-based employment discrimination in 1976. After the 1976 case the Fire Department implemented remedial affirmative action hiring policies to remedy the under-representation of African Americans. On November 8, 2001, another white applicant challenged the 1976 consent decree and the suits were consolidated. The plaintiffs argued that racial parity had been achieved and thus the consent decree should be dissolved and they should be hired and awarded damages.
On November 5, 2003, the district court (Judge John F. Nangle) dissolved the partial consent decree but refused to retroactively dissolve it and declare it unconstitutional. The court also refused to grant one of the white applicant's motions for summary judgment as to the substantive liability of the City. The applicants then amended their complaint to add the Department of Justice and Firefighters Institute for Racial Equality ("FIRE") as a defendants and other applicants as plaintiffs. On January 30, 2004 the district court granted FIRE's motion for summary judgment as to its liability to plaintiffs.
On February 24, 2005 the district court denied the City's motion for summary judgment as to its substantive liability in part, holding that as a public employer, the City had an obligation to ensure that a consent decree aimed at racial parity did the least harm possible to others competing for employment. The court also granted plaintiff's motion for summary judgment in part, finding that the two applicants should have been granted employment.
A two-day jury trial took place from March 15-16, 2006 on the issue of the substantive liability of the City and the plaintiffs were awarded $162,875 in damages. After further pleadings, on September 5, 2007 the district court granted retroactive seniority to the claimants.
The parties filed cross appeals on October 5, 2007.
On August 26, 2008 the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (Judge Loken, Judge Gibson and Judge Melloy) affirmed the dissolution of the consent decree but reversed the award of equitable relief and damages based on the district court's ruling that the consent decree was not unconstitutional and was not to be retroactively dissolved. The case was closed on January 30, 2009 when the parties stipulated to dismiss the case with prejudice.Michael Perry - 07/15/2010