On October 31, 1986, the U.S. Department of Justice ("D.O.J.") filed a lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e, against the City of Warren, Michigan and the City of Warren Police and Firefighter Civil Service Commission, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The D.O.J. sought injunctive relief, alleging defendants' advertising and recruitment practices had a discriminatory impact on blacks and that black applicants received disparate treatment in the hiring process.
One of the government's specific allegations involved a list of firefighter recruits ("the 1989 list"). The government alleged that the City of Warren violated Title VII because it developed the 1989 list by recruiting applicants using advertisement methods that excluded blacks from the list by failing to use media outlets geared toward blacks.
The government additionally contended that defendants discriminated against black applicants by imposing a requirement that all applicants be residents of the city for one year prior to the time of their application ("the preapplication residency requirement").
In 1958, the City of Warren implemented the preapplication residency requirement relating to persons applying for police, firefighter, and other municipal jobs. In 1984, the City of Warren rescinded the preapplication residency requirement with regards to police and fire applicants. Finally, in 1986, the City of Warren rescinded the residency requirement as to all other municipal job applicants. In 1986, the government filed a suit against defendants alleging that the preapplication residency requirement violated Title VII and that defendants continued to violate Title VII with regards to its recruitment of blacks.
The government filed a motion for summary judgment on its claim that the preapplication residency requirement had a disparate impact on black applicants. Additionally, defendants filed a motion for summary judgment arguing the residency requirement did no violate Title VII.
On February 14, 1991, the district court (Judge Patrick J. Duggan) ruled on the motions for summary judgment holding that: (1) statistical evidence established that the preapplication residency requirement had a disparate impact on blacks; (2) the defendants did not establish a business justification for the requirement; and (3) retroactive relief was warranted.
On that same day the district court (Judge Duggan) dismissed the government's motion for a preliminary injunction seeking to enjoin the City of Warren from using a list a eligible applicants for firefighter positions ("the 1989 list"). The government argued that the City of Warren should be enjoined from using the 1989 list because it recruited the applicants on the list using advertisement methods that excluded blacks from the list by failing to use media outlets geared toward blacks. The court held that a preliminary injunction was not necessary because on September 24, 1990 it had entered an order providing that the City of Warren would eliminate the 1989 list and begin recruiting a new firefighter list in a way that would be approved by the court. In addition to denying the government's motion for a preliminary injunction, the court also clarified that nonemployees who had no knowledge of the job openings could be entitled to retroactive relief.
On August 12, 1992, the district court (Judge Duggan) held that the defendants' pre-1986 police and firefighter recruitment practices violated Title VII by having a disparate impact on blacks. The court held that the government failed to prove its disparate impact claim as to the City of Warren's pre-1986 recruitment for other municipal positions (however, the court emphasized that its holding that the pre-1986 use of a preapplication residency requirement had a disparate impact on blacks is not affected by this ruling). The court further held that the City of Warren's refusal to advertise in black-oriented media until 1990 did no amount to disparate impact in violation of Title VII, because the City took other steps to reach out to potential black applicants, such as sending materials out to the NAACP and the Urban League. The court held that the government failed to establish its claim that black applicants received disparate treatments in the application process and that the hiring of two white males over two black males constituted a violation of Title VII. The court further held the government failed to establish existence of a hostile work environment toward blacks in the city's various municipal departments. The court, however, held that the City of Warren had failed to eliminate the discriminatory effects of its pre-1986 recruitment practices and that injunctive relief is proper to remedy this. Finally the court held that the government failed to state a prima facie case for its claim that three members of the Civil Services Commission were dismissed in retaliation for their cooperation with the government's investigation. The court gave the government 30 days to produce evidence that it could present a list of identifiable victims of the defendants' discrimination that would be eligible for individual relief. The court further ordered the parties to submit a proposed injunction.
On January 15, 1993, the district court (Judge Duggan) held that the government was allowed to notify potential victims of defendants' discriminatory practices through local newspapers and other black-oriented media as well as by having the City of Warren send notice to the black police and firefighter organizations in Detroit and all black applicants to Warren since October 1986. The court further held that the City of Warren would bear the cost of this notifications.
On July 25, 1995, the government filed a motion for adoption of its recommendations on claims for individual relief, on behalf of eleven individuals. On November 6, 1996, the district court (Judge Duggan) awarded on individual $55,595.00 in backpay, but denied individual relief as to the other ten individuals.
One individual who was denied relief appealed the district court's ruling, on November 13, 1997, in a per curiam opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (Judges Leroy John Contie, Jr., Martha Craig Daughtrey, and R. Guy Cole, Jr.) affirmed the district court's decision to deny individual relief to the appellant.
On November 13, 1997, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that the plaintiff had met its burden in proving that the disparate impact was widespread and did extend to all municipal institutions in the City of Warren.
This case is closed.Janani Iyengar - 10/29/2007