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Ricci v DeStefano before the US Supreme Court

From the SCOTUS blog (1), the [Supreme Court] will hear 70 minutes of argument in the consolidated cases of Ricci v. DeStefano (07-1428) and Ricci v. DeStefano (08-328), on the City of New Haven’s duty to promote white workers who scored highest on the firefighter civil service exam. While the legal reasoning on the issue (2) raised is the focus of today's news, the Brief for Industrial-Organizational Psychologists in Support of Respondent provides an interesting perspective. Below are some of the points made in the Brief:
Amici are experts in the field of industrial-organizational psychology and elected fellows of SIOP (Society for Industrial-Organizational Psychology), a Division of American Psychological Association, that is responsible for establishment of scientific findings and generally accepted professional practices in field of personal selection. (They have extensive experience in design/validations of promotional tests for emergency services departments, including fire and police across the country.) They argue that the City of New Haven...reasonable declined to certify the results of the 2003 New Hampshire Fire Department (NHFD) promotional exams for captain and lieutenant because validity of the tests could not have been substantiated under accepted scientific principles in the field of I/O.
Amici point out 4 serious flaws of these 2003 exams:
-their admitted failure to measure critical qualifications for the job of a fire company officer,
-the arbitrary , scientifically unsubstantiated weighting of the multiple-choice and oral components of the test battery,
-the lack of input from local subject matter experts regarding whether the tests matched content of jobs
-use of strict rank ordering without sufficient justification.
In sum, given the flaws in the NHFD exams which exacerbated the adverse impact on minority candidates, given the availability of proven alternative selection methods, the City had reasonably race neutral grounds for deciding against certifying the results of the flawed tests. Indeed, under Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964, it had no choice. Petitioners' attempt to turn a decision compelled by Title VII into a violation of Title VII on the basis of mere insinuations about the Boards supposed racial biases turns the statute on its head and should be rejected.
Amici state that proper validation of employment according to established standards is essential to ensuring a fair merit based selection, noting also that current I/O psychological research supports the use of promotional assessment centers as a valid and less discriminatory alternative to traditional testing methods.
see also many other briefs filed on the merits.
(2)From SCOTUS WIKI:Whether municipalities may decline to certify results of an exam that would make disproportionately more white applicants eligible for promotion than minority applicants, due to fears that certifying the results would lead to charges of racial discrimination.

For convenience of readers-

Industrial and organizational psychology (I/O) applies psychological concepts and methods to optimize human potential in the workplace. Personnel psychology, a subfield of I/O psychology, applies the methods and principles of psychology in selecting and evaluating workers. I/O psychology's other subfield, organizational psychology, examines the effects of work environments and management styles on worker motivation, job satisfaction, and productivity.
From the Wikipedia

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 22, 2009 7:25 AM.

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