On January 7, 2010, the United States filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, against the State of New Jersey Civil Service Commission. The U.S. claimed that the promotional practices established by the New Jersey Civil Service Commission had an illegal disparate impact on African-American and Hispanic candidates for promotion to the rank of Police Sergeant. The U.S. Department of Justice sought a court order barring: written examinations as a pass/fail screening method for promotion to Police Sergeant, and certification of candidates for promotion to Police Sergeant from eligibility lists in descending-rank order; the U.S. also asked for retrospective remedies including back pay with interest and priority promotion with retroactive seniority to candidates affected by the allegedly discriminatory practices.
The case focused on New Jersey's written multiple-choice examination, which was used as a pass/fail screening mechanism for eligibility for promotion; this testing protocol resulted in a statistically significant gap in the percentage of African-American and Hispanic candidates placed on an eligibility list. The practice of certifying candidates for promotion from the eligibility list in descending-rank order based on exam scores and seniority also resulted in a statistically significant percentage of African-American and Hispanic candidates on the list not being certified for promotion.
On November 22, 2011, the parties agreed to a consent decree that enjoined the New Jersey Civil Service Commission from using the challenged promotion practices as well as any practices that violate Title VII, established settlement funds for awarding back pay, policies for enacting priority promotions, and dates and processes to notify individuals who may be eligible for relief. On June 12, 2012, the District Court (Judge Katharine S. Hayden) issued an opinion approving the consent decree for final entry. 2012 WL 3265905.
After notifying individuals eligible for relief under the consent decree, proceedings taking objections to the consent decree, and fairness hearings determining individual relief, the parties submitted a relief awards list and all objections to the list.
On May 10, 2013, various parties who objected to the approval of the final relief awards list appealed the decision of the District Court to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (Judges Sloviter, Fuentes, and Rother), which upheld the decision of the District Court on June 13, 2013. 522 Fed.Appx. 167. The same parties petitioned the United States Supreme Court for review, but cert was denied. Hamdeh v. United States, 134 S.Ct. 529 (2013). On April 10, 2014, the court (Judge Katharine S. Hayden) issued an opinion approving the final relief award list. 2014 WL 1404642.
Subsequently, the DOJ moved to modify paragraph 67 of the consent decree arguing that
in certain jurisdictions, alternating on a one-to-one basis between the two lists might afford some priority promotion candidates greater than make-whole relief because they would receive a promotion before individuals on an SRL who have earlier actual appointment dates. However, on September 30, 2015, the court (Judge Hayden) denied the motion. Claire Lally - 10/09/2014
Jessica Kincaid - 04/01/2016