In September 1970 a group of black applicants to the Minneapolis Fire Department filed suit against the Civil Service Commission and Minneapolis Fire Department in the Federal District Court for the District of Minnesota. The suit was brought under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983 as well as the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiffs brought suit on behalf of all minority applicants and alleged that the Civil Service Commission employed a hiring procedure that exhibited a pattern or practice of discrimination and had a disparate impact on minorities. In 1970 the Minneapolis Fire Department contained 535 members, all of whom were white. Specifically plaintiffs alleged that the format of the test, the recruitment policies, and the additional requirements for employment resulted in unlawful discrimination.
On March 9, 1971 the district court (Judge Larson) entered a finding of fact for the plaintiffs and issued a decree that required, among other things, that the fire department adopt a quota of twenty minority candidates being hired in every hiring cycle. Defendants appealed to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. On September 9, 1971 the court (Judge Matthes, Judge Van Oosterhout, and Judge Eisele) upheld the decree except the quota of 20 minority hires, which it found unconstitutionally discriminated against white applicants. On rehearing en banc on January 7, 1972 the court modified the decision. Rather than strike the quota the court modified it such that the fire department would be required to hire one minority candidate for every two white candidates until 20 minority candidates were hired in each hiring cycle. This order was to be in force until there was racial parity between the city and the fire department.
On April 6, 1972 the district court (Judge Larson) entered the modified decree. Its principle components were the revised hiring scheme, a requirement that the Civil Service Commission devise an affirmative action program for recruiting minority candidates, abandonment of hiring requirements that disproportionally affected minorities, and revision of the candidate examination under EEOC guidelines so that it would be non-discriminatory.
The court retained jurisdiction and monitored compliance with the terms regarding hiring practices until November 15, 2000. On that date the court (Judge Magnuson) entered an order terminating jurisdiction over all aspects of the decree effective January 2, 2001. The court also entered an agreement between the parties on a number of provisions to ensure that hiring practices did not have a disparate impact on minority candidates.Michael Perry - 07/24/2010