Brookline might be forced to offer jobs to six nonwhite public safety applicants who took civil service exams a judge had later found discriminatory, if the court approves a settlement.
Brookline might be forced to offer jobs to six black or Latino public safety applicants who took civil service exams a judge had later found discriminatory, if the court approves a settlement.
The settlement, which the state agreed to, follows a class-action lawsuit against the state and after black and Latino applicants performed well, but markedly below, their white peers on the exams in 2002 and 2004.
A judge ruled the test discriminatory last summer, requiring the state in December to correct the mistake.
Pending final approval, a settlement drafted May 25 would require 19 communities, including Brookline, to offer the entry-level positions to the high-scoring black and Latino applicants.
According to Harold Lichten — a Boston lawyer who filed the suit against the state and the city of Lynn on behalf of four black firefighter applicants — said Brookline would have to offer jobs to four qualified black or Latino police applicants.
“At each score — whether it was 90, 89 or 85 — the percentage of minorities getting that score was probably half of what the nonminorities were,” Lichten said. “It was pretty clear the exam had a pretty significant impact on that.”
Brookline Fire Chief John Green said the department would have to offer two positions of the nine vacancies it is authorized to fill to qualified black or Latino candidates.
“To be perfectly honest with you, how I feel about it has absolutely nothing to do with anything,” Green said. “It’s a court order, and I’m going to follow it.”
Green said the department would be required to make the offers before the civil service list expires, which he estimated to be about two years from now.
Brookline Police Chief Daniel O’Leary said he and Human Resources Director Sandra DeBow were not aware of the suit or settlement.
According to the U.S. District Court documents, the state would be required to pay up to $1.45 million in back pay for the applicants, if hired.
That amounts to about $18,750 per person, according to the settlement.
Another clause of the settlement allows for “delay candidates,” or those who were hired later due to the discriminatory exams, who would qualify for an average of $13,000 per person in back pay from the state.
Since the initial complaint, Lichten said he is satisfied the state has adopted a new and fairer exam.
“You had this old, outdated entrance-level examination that just tested for cognitive abilities,” he said. “When you think about the attributes of a good firefighter or police officer … you think of teamwork, courage and loyalty.”
The proposed settlement would have the state’s Human Resources Department push all black or Latino candidates who passed one of the four disputed exams to the top of the civil service hiring list for police and firefighters.
Brookline, along with the other 19 communities, would have to hire or disqualify with cause these candidates before it is allowed to hire from the traditional civil service list, according to the settlement.
Officials expect more than 60 black or Latino candidates to be hired as a result, if the settlement is approved.
The court was expected to approve or deny the settlement June 6, at 3 p.m., after the TAB’s deadline, according to Harry Pierre, a spokesman for Attorney General Martha Coakley.
“Rather than engage in an extensive appeal process, we felt it was in the best interests of the commonwealth and all parties involved to adopt the new exam and the new scoring mechanism which is expected to eliminate any claim of disparate impact and to increase minority hiring,” a statement from Coakley’s office read.
Other affected communities are Ashland, Bedford, Belmont, Beverly, Boston, Cambridge, Everett, Fall River, Leominster, Lynn, New Bedford, North Adams, North Andover, Quincy, Revere, Sharon, Southbridge, Taunton and Waltham.
Jessica Scarpati can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.