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VULCAN PIONEERS, INC. v. NEW JERSEY DEPT. OF CIV.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY


December 19, 1985

VULCAN PIONEERS, INC., et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF CIVIL SERVICE, et al., Defendants. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff, v. STATE OF NEW JERSEY, et al., Defendants. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff, v. STATE OF NEW JERSEY, et al., Defendants. VULCAN PIONEERS OF NEW JERSEY, et al., Plaintiff, v. CITY OF NEWARK, et al., Defendants

The opinion of the court was delivered by: SAROKIN

INTRODUCTION

 This case challenges the validity of civil service examinations administered on numerous occasions over a considerable period of time for promotional positions in fire departments throughout New Jersey. Although to a large extent the proofs in the case are predicated upon statistics, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that we are here dealing with individuals whose employment futures will be seriously affected by this matter. On the one hand, there are those who have taken and passed the test who now wait patiently for implementation of its results, particularly those who rank high on the resulting lists and are on the brink of appointment. On the other hand, there are minorities who the government contends have been discriminated against and thereby deprived of the same promotional opportunities. Finally, there is the public, which has a right to expect that responsible positions of leadership in the fire departments will be filled expeditiously by persons clearly qualified to supervise and perform the highly important and courageous work of protecting life and property.

 There can be little doubt that the failure to have minorities in responsible positions of supervision is a direct result of historic discriminatory practices. Earlier failures to appoint minority firefighters at the entry level obviously affect the current availability of such minorities for appointment to higher positions. That limitation, in turn, affects the statistical basis upon which the court's analysis must focus. It therefore is unfortunate, that despite the requirements of the consent decree and the warnings of the Justice Department to the State regarding the claimed invalidity of the test, it has been offered so many times and has raised the expectations of so many. Those circumstances now require the court to resolve these highly complex and sensitive issues.

 PROCEDURAL POSTURE

 This matter is before the court on the May 7, 1984 motion of plaintiff United States of America to enforce the May 30, 1980 Consent Decree entered into between the parties. Plaintiff's notice of motion requested the court "to enjoin the State defendants and the defendant cities from using eligibility lists [for promotion] based upon the present examination and to require the State to use a test in the future which is job-related and consistent with the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures, 28 C.F.R. 50.14, or which has no adverse impact upon minorities." At issue is the validity of examinations administered by the State of New Jersey for the first level supervisory rank (i.e., fire captain or lieutenant) since entry of the decree in the twelve defendant municipalities: Atlantic City, Camden, East Orange, Elizabeth, Hoboken, Jersey City, New Brunswick, Newark, Passaic, Paterson, Plainfield and Trenton.

 The procedural history of this matter is traced in court's Opinions of October 1, 1982, Vulcan Pioneers, Inc. v. New Jersey Department of Civil Service, Civil Action No. 81-281, unpub. op. at 2-5 (D.N.J. Oct. 1, 1982), and May 3, 1984. Vulcan Pioneers, Inc. v. New Jersey Department of Civil Service, 588 F. Supp. 716, 719-20 (D.N.J. 1984). That history culminated, for purposes of this motion, in the May 30, 1980 Consent Decree. Such decree does not contain findings of discrimination as against defendants, but does require that defendants

 

refrain from engaging in any act or practice which has the purpose or effect of unlawfully discriminating against any black or hispanic employee of, or any black or Hispanic applicant for employment with their respective fire departments because of such individual's race, color, or national origin. Specifically the defendants shall not discriminate against any such individual in hiring, assignment, training, discipline, promotion or discharge because of race, color or national origin.

  Consent Decree para. 1. To this end, the Decree, inter alia, barred the use of certain examinations for purposes of making appointments to the rank of firefighters, para. 2, and set forth numerical goals for the appointment of minority firefighters in each of the defendant municipalities, para. 3. With respect to the issue of promotions, the Decree required the defendant State of New Jersey to

 

review the composition of the current selection process for appointment to ranks above the level of firefighter to ensure job relatedness and with the goal of eliminating adverse impact on black or Hispanic applicants in accordance with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, and the Guidelines issued thereunder. As part of this review, the State defendants shall conduct a thorough job analysis of each fire department promotional classification for defendant cities in a manner consistent with the Uniform Guidelines of Employee Selection Procedures, 28 C.F.R. 50.14, and other professionally accepted standards and shall establish cut-off scores, examination components and the duration of eligibility lists in a manner consistent with the results of the job analyses, to assure qualified candidates and with the goal of eliminating adverse impact on black and Hispanic applicants.

 Para. 7(a). Minimum time-in-grade requirements were set forth, para. 7(b), and certain reporting obligations imposed upon the defendant State. para. 7(c). Finally, the Decree states:

 

Should plaintiff United States, at any stage of the process set forth . . . above, or thereafter, determine that the promotional selection process will have the purpose or effect of discrimination against black or Hispanic applicants, plaintiff shall notify the applicable State and municipal defendants, and the affected parties shall meet within a reasonable period to discuss resolution of the matter. If the parties fail to resolve the matter, any affected party may move the Court for resolution. If an objection is made by plaintiff, no persons shall be certified for appointment pending resolution by the Court.

 Para. 8. The parties agree, and the court finds, that plaintiff met the notice requirement of this paragraph, see Plaintiff's Exh. 103, and that efforts informally to resolve this matter have failed. As a result, and after extensive discovery, the court held an exhaustive hearing on this matter, commencing February 6, 1985. At the close of plaintiff's case, the defendant State of New Jersey and certain intervenors moved for a directed verdict; after briefing, the court reserved judgment on the matter, and addresses it herein.

 FINDINGS OF FACT

 A. The Selection Procedure

 The defendant, State of New Jersey, through the President of the Civil Service Commission, is responsible for determining the components of the selection process for entry and promotional positions in the fire departments of the defendant municipalities, the content of and weight assigned to each such component, and whether the components are to be used on a rank order or pass/fail basis. The administration of the responsibilities of the President of the Civil Service Commission is carried out through the New Jersey Department of Civil Service, which prepares and administers examinations and promulgates eligibility lists for promotion to all uniformed fire department ranks above the entry level rank of firefighter for the fire departments in the twelve defendant municipalities herein. The defendant municipalities, in turn, are required to use the selection procedures prescribed by the State in making appointment to first level fire supervisory ranks. See generally N.J.S.A. 11:1-1, et seq ; N.J.A.C. 4:1-1, et seq. The defendant municipalities have established the first level supervisory rank in their respective fire departments as follows: Atlantic City Fire Captain Camden Fire Captain East Orange Fire Captain Elizabeth Fire Captain Hoboken Fire Captain Jersey City Fire Lieutenant until 3/26/84 Fire Captain since 3/26/84 Newark Fire Captain New Brunswick Fire Lieutenant until 12/3/81 Fire Captain since 12/3/81 Passaic Fire Lieutenant Paterson Fire Captain Plainfield Fire Lieutenant Trenton Fire Captain

19851219

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