[IPAC-List] Ricci update

Pluta, Paul ppluta at hr.lacounty.gov
Wed Dec 9 18:20:08 EST 2009

It does appear that the labor agreement limited their options, which
should have been dealt with when the agreement was being negotiated. I
agree that they should get everybody together now and try to work out a
more viable solution.

Assessment centers are a good choice, but they are not without their
down-side. They are expensive to develop and administer. My experience
with fire is that exam content tends to get compromised, so test
security is a big issue. When department personnel are used as raters,
certain candidates tend to get special "coaching" and making raters sign
a test security agreement doesn't seem to eliminate this problem. Using
tests where content can be readily changed, reordered, or is more
ambiguous (e.g., the situational judgment test where there in no one
"correct" answer and only a small group of SMEs is privy to the "best"
choice) may be a more economical way to deal with test security issues.
I would hate to spend tens of thousands developing an assessment center
and have the content compromised after the first administration. We
have had to develop three structured interviews in the past three years
due to security issues, which is a real pain and nowhere near what we
would go through to develop a new assessment center.

As for voluntary affirmative action plans; they are not illegal, per se.
You are correct that numerical quotas are illegal. However, a voluntary
affirmative action plan may have the general goal of reducing or
eliminating a manifest imbalance. This may be accomplished through
strategic initiatives, such as expanding recruitment efforts to include
under-represented groups, selecting employment tests that predict well
without resulting in adverse impact on under-represented groups,
providing development opportunities (available to all) which help
prepare members of under-represented groups to advance, etc. None of
these things are illegal because there are no numerical quotas, such as
a requirement that at least X% of members of this group be selected from
the list of eligibles.

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 Richard Arwood
Sent: Wednesday, December 09, 2009 2:32 PM
To: 'Mark Hammer'; IPAC-List at ipacweb.org
Subject: Re: [IPAC-List] Ricci update

I will tackle this one, because I have "been there; done that."

First, the Fire Chief may NOT have the flexibility to select any set of
selection procedures for the future, but hopefully, he or she does.
if I recall, wasn't there a stipulation in the labor agreement about
elements and weighting? In any case, the City of New Haven SHOULD (I
hope) have the flexibility to choose the best assessment process that
can design (or contract to design) that will give them a predictive
selection process, ideally WITHOUT adverse impact. Ideally, if I had
power as Fire Chief to do it, I would convene a committee of all the
stakeholders to review the various design approaches and reach a common
consensus on an acceptable design. Likely, it would result in a
multi-faceted assessment center process that would evaluate the most
important and most frequently-performed job dimensions for each rank
In the end, there would be "accepting sign-off" by all the stakeholders,
BEFORE the testing takes place. It would not necessarily eliminate
lawsuits, but it sure would give some credence to the employer's legal

Second, attempting to remedy a supposed INEQUITY in racial percentages
probably, if not definitely, illegal. Quotas were outlawed by the
Court (I think) 15 or so years ago. I am sure some of our members here
cite the case(s). Also, I have not seen any indication that the Justice
Department has cited New Haven for any past discrimination, nor, to my
knowledge, is there a need for a remedy in the form of a consent decree.

Third, has anyone determined or stated the percentages for the "relevant
labor market" in New Haven? It is the "Relevant Labor Market" that
be the target goal of racial percentages within the labor market; NOT
population figures. Yet, almost exclusively, it is the population
percentages that politicians and media report when they are examining
issues of racial distribution within the labor market. The fallacy of
discussions is that I know of very few children and very few "old folks"
over the age of 60 who can or desire to be firefighters! It is the
LABOR MARKET that counts; not the population. With that said, I wonder
the NHFD percentages are as compared to the percentages in the New Haven
labor market who meet the minimum qualifications to become NHFD

Finally, it has become very apparent to me that the City of New Haven
some very extreme racial challenges, and I blame the city leadership for
allowing those issues to permeate the public working environment. It is
very sad and embarrassing. Thus, there should be concerted and
efforts initiated to build trust, respect, and yes, love, between the
employees and citizens of New Haven. They need to get to the "root
of racial divisiveness in New Haven.

That's my two cents.......................RBA

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

Join with us at: http://www.iracing.com/


-----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 2:59 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
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
not deserving of promotion, but clearly if the representativeness within
upper ranks was poor before, it is most definitely poorer now. So how
one react to that? Do they revert to banding? Do they start looking
immediately for tests with stellar adverse impact specs? Do they treat
as a mere glitch, anomaly, or bit of noise in the long-term trend? How
they fix an imbalance that has just been made worse, and how exactly do
earn the confidence of African-American firefighters within the force
any sort of promotion might be in the stars for them in the future?
all, such promotion exam outcomes depend on the internal labour market,
if you can't assemble an internal talent pool to draw from that holds
promise, you'll NEVER meet your diversity objectives.

Much to ponder, most of it likely not well-understood or considered by
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 (
)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
firefighters passed. The judge ordered that 14 of the plaintiffs be
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
that New Haven violated the rights of the plaintiffs when it threw out
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
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
the claim in 2008. But in June, the US Supreme Court reversed the
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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