Department of Justice and State Reach Agreement over Alleged Discriminatory Promotion Tests

New Jersey will soon have to design a new test for screening candidates for municipal and county police sergeant positions according to a settlement reached between the U.S. Justice Department and the State. (1)

In January 2010, the Justice Department filed suit in U.S. District Court in Newark alleging that the civil service test used by the State’s local and county police departments discriminated against African American and Hispanic applicants. The test, according to the Justice Department, did not help to find the best candidates for the position, but rather disqualified an unequal number of blacks and Hispanics. (2)

The current test has been used since 2000. (3) During the period from 2000 and 2008, the Justice Department claimed, 89% of Caucasian candidates passed the test, which was administered by about 120 county and municipal law enforcement departments, compared with 77% of Hispanic and 73% of African American candidates. (2)

Under terms of the settlement, New Jersey would cease using the current test, design a new one and put aside $1 million to be used as back pay for those candidates the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division deems were negatively affected by the current test. In addition, those candidates would be given preferential consideration for future sergeant position openings. (1)

This settlement is subject to approval by a federal judge. (3)



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