Supreme Court Backs Group of Black Firefighters Fighting Against Test

A group of African American firefighters in Chicago have received the backing of a Supreme Court decision following a close 5-4 decision. The decision centered largely on the timeliness of their filing of a charge of discrimination, which is limited to 300 days.

The firefighters alleged that beginning in 1995, in order be hired into the Fire Department, individuals would have to score higher than 65 percent on a written exam to qualify. The Fire Department would then only hire individuals who scored 89 percent or hire, and hire a random sampling of these individuals. This sampling had greatly impacted the ranks of African American’s within the fire department, and a lower court Judge agreed.

Upon appeal however, it was argued that the firefighters did not make a timely claim of discrimination, and had their claims dismissed.

This time around five Justices, led by Antonin Scalia, determined that since the City has continued to use the discriminatory test since 1995, it would fall under the continuing violations doctrine. As a result, it was ordered that the City hire 132 members of the class, and to provide a payment for the other members of the class that were affected by this discriminatory policy.