[IPAC-List] Ricci update

Pluta, Paul ppluta at hr.lacounty.gov
Wed Dec 9 16:42:18 EST 2009

Testing 101: A written multiple-choice test will almost certainly
result in adverse impact, especially if weighted 60%. They should have
known this going in. Additionally, if affirmative action was a
deliberate goal, they should have developed a less adverse selection

One fairly efficient pre-screen alternative is a paper-and-pencil
situational judgment test, which presents the examinee with a set of
work-related scenarios and requires him/her to select from a list of
potential actions that have been ranked by a group of SMEs in terms of
their relative effectiveness. Another option would be an assessment of
dispositional competencies, such as psychological hardiness,
conscientiousness, emotional intelligence, etc. as another relatively
efficient and less adverse pre-screening tool. If they insist on
including a written test of job knowledge, create a composite with the
dispositional test or SJT. I am not trying to recommend specific
solutions to their problem. I am only pointing out that a well-trained
and experienced selection professional should be able to devise some
solution to the problem that would achieve explicit affirmative action

It does not appear to me that New Havens actions were well informed or
deliberately intended to achieve an explicit affirmative action goal.
It appears to have been a knee-jerk reaction to a poorly thought out
plan (I use the word "plan" in the loosest of terms here).

Paul E. Pluta, ABD, SPHR
Human Resources Analyst III
Los Angeles County Department of Human Resources
Workforce Planning, Test Research, & Appeals Division

-----Original Message-----
From: ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org
[mailto:ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org] On Behalf Of Mark Hammer
Sent: Wednesday, December 09, 2009 12:59 PM
To: IPAC-List at ipacweb.org
Subject: Re: [IPAC-List] Ricci update

So, um, anyone here running to be head of HR for the New Haven Fire
Department? Now, don't all put your hands up at once.

I'm the sort who finds far too many movies end with a scenario that is
far more interesting than everything leading up to it in the preceding
89 minutes, and wish they'd show what happens next. So here's the
million dollar question, if you were overseeing staffing in the New
Haven Fire Dept., what would your assessment strategy for the future be?

I'm not saying the court's decision was wrong, or that the plaintiffs
are not deserving of promotion, but clearly if the representativeness
within the upper ranks was poor before, it is most definitely poorer
now. So how does one react to that? Do they revert to banding? Do
they start looking immediately for tests with stellar adverse impact
specs? Do they treat this as a mere glitch, anomaly, or bit of noise in
the long-term trend? How do they fix an imbalance that has just been
made worse, and how exactly do they earn the confidence of
African-American firefighters within the force that any sort of
promotion might be in the stars for them in the future? After all, such
promotion exam outcomes depend on the internal labour market, and if you
can't assemble an internal talent pool to draw from that holds any
promise, you'll NEVER meet your diversity objectives.

Much to ponder, most of it likely not well-understood or considered by
the judges in the case. Thanks for the followup, Brian.

Mark Hammer

>>> "Bryan Baldwin" <Bryan.Baldwin at doj.ca.gov> 2009/12/09 3:21 pm >>>

For those that are curious about how the Ricci case ended up:

Judge orders Conn. firefighters promoted (
tml )November 25, 2009 12:10 AM

By John M. Guilfoil, Globe Correspondent
NEW HAVEN -- A US District Court judge ordered that 14 firefighters be
promoted and ruled that the city violated their civil rights when the
results of fire officer tests were thrown out in 2004 because too few
black firefighters passed. The judge ordered that 14 of the plaintiffs
be promoted immediately.
The City of New Haven confirmed in a statement Tuesday night that the
promotions will be completed as soon as possible, WTNH-TV reported.
The case of Ricci v. DeStefano alleges reverse racism. The lawsuit
claimed that New Haven violated the rights of the plaintiffs when it
threw out two promotional exams because blacks scored poorly.

The city had claimed, in its own defense, that it threw out the tests
out of fear that discrimination lawsuits would arise from the black
community. Instead, the 19 white firefighters and one Latino who would
have been in line for promotions sued the city.
Firefighters Michael Blatchley, Greg Boivin, Michael Christoforo, Ryan
Divito, Steven Durand, Christopher Parker, Frank Ricci, and Mark
Vendetto will be promoted to lieutenant.
Advancing to the rank of captain are: Gary Carbone, William Gambardella,
Brian Jooss, Matthew Marcarelli, Timothy Scanlon and Benjamin Vargas.
A judge had thrown out the case in 2006. The US Court of Appeals
dismissed the claim in 2008. But in June, the US Supreme Court reversed
the decision, leading to Tuesday's ruling.
John M. Guilfoil can be reached at jguilfoil at globe.com

Bryan Baldwin
Staff Services Manager II
California Department of Justice
Division of Administrative Support
Personnel Programs
(916) 322-5446

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