[IPAC-List] Ricci v DeStefano and the Relevant Labor Market

Eric Palmer epalmer613 at yahoo.com
Fri Jul 3 19:16:18 EDT 2009

Ron's point is correct, but recall that the underrepresentation at the fire fighter rank in New Haven doesn't appear to be great.  The primary underrepresentation is at the officer level, where the paramount requirements are leadership, management skills, analytical/probelm solving skills, and of course expertise in the tactical, technical, and strategic elements of fire science.  I think we have to ask what the relavant labor pool is for the officer level?  Given the above requirements, it seems to be pretty restrictive.  Assuming it's an internal only promotional opportunity, is the relevant labor pool those New Haven fire fighters (Engineers, really) who are strong in leadership, management skills, and problem solving?  That's more restrictive still.

--- On Thu, 7/2/09, RPClare at aol.com <RPClare at aol.com> wrote:

From: RPClare at aol.com <RPClare at aol.com>
Subject: Re: [IPAC-List] Ricci v DeStefano and the Relevant Labor Market
To: richard.arwood at comcast.net, IPAC-List at ipacweb.org
Date: Thursday, July 2, 2009, 3:21 PM

Didn't we have a landmark case about the validity of education 
requirements!?!  The labor pool point is an excellent one but its  application to
firefighters is a slippery slope requiring other validation  efforts. It is much
easier when we're talking about engineers, lawyers and MDs  than when we're
talking about defending the requirement for a HS diploma (or age 

In a message dated 7/2/2009 5:37:29 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, 
richard.arwood at comcast.net writes:

If I may  do so, please allow me to make a clear point here that the
important issue  regarding over-representation and under-representation is
very often  (almost always) misinterpreted to be the "general population."
It is very  sad that most politicians and many selection professionals may
err in that  manner.  The true standard must be the "relevant population"
(those  who meet or exceed the minimal requirements (usually at entry level)
for  the job.  I would suspect that the "relevant labor market" in the  New
Haven zone of employee recruitment is far different than the  general
population, given the likelihood that firefighters must possess a  level of
achieved prior education (i.e. high school or GED).

In most  "consent decrees" that I have seen rendered by or through the
Department of  Justice, the final goal of minority representation within the
employment  group is the "relevant labor market"; thereby restoring the
employee group,  in theory, to the percentage distribution that would likely
be found if no  prior discrimination occurred.

Let me give a specific example from  Memphis TN.  The general population is
(approximately): 65% Black, 44%  White, and 1% Hispanic.  However, the
relevant labor market, in  Memphis, for entry-level firefighters is: 38%
Black, 62% White, and <1%  Hispanic.  The entry-level requirement for
firefighter is: high school  education (or equivalent), age 21-35.  Thus,
can see the very  dramatic differences rendered by an evaluation given with
the proper  perspective.

Of course, personnel selection at levels beyond the entry  level pose other
complex questions, but the "relevant population"  percentage is an
interesting barometer to compare the final distribution of  results of
testing and selection, and the distribution of race and gender  within
employee  groups.


Richard  Arwood, Fire Chief (retired) -Memphis, TN
Collierville,  TN

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