This past week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Ricci v. DiStefano case. The case centers on whether a city may decline to accept the results of a civil service exam in which there were no minority candidates eligible for promotion. Ultimately, the City of New Haven did not accept the results of the exam which impacted the white firefighters who had passed the test. The City argues that the act was “race neutral” as both minority and non-minority applicants were not promoted and thus no one was harmed.
According to a recent New York Times article, Chief Justice Roberts raised the question that if the City does not like the results of an exam, whether that gives them a “blank check to discriminate.” This case is unique as it presents issues of race discrimination from both sides. The minority candidates can argue that they were disadvantaged by a biased and flawed exam and the non-minority candidates can claim that there was reverse race discrimination by the City when it chose not to accept the results of the exam. Whatever the outcome, this case presents very relevant issues of race discrimination in the employment law context.