United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
200 F.3d 1092 (7th Cir. 2000)
In 1994, the City of Chicago Police Department (the Department) (defendant) used a police exam to make sergeant-to-lieutenant promotion decisions. The Department hired an outside consultant with extensive experience and expertise in promotion tests to devise and administer the test. The expert had created more than 50 exams for other police and fire departments and published approximately 50 peer-reviewed articles on employee-promotion tests. The Department’s test, formulated after exhaustive research, interviews, observation, testing, and consultation with objective source materials, comprised three parts: (1) a written job-knowledge test; (2) a hypothetical, closed-universe exercise measuring skills required of lieutenants; and (3) an oral exercise designed to test candidates’ analytical and communication skills. Of the 765 sergeants who took the 1994 exam, 24 percent were black and 7 percent were Hispanic. The Department promoted the sergeants who received the top 108 test scores. Of the officers promoted, five were black, and one was Hispanic. Minorities represented less than 6 percent of the promotions given. Forty-four black and Hispanic former or present Chicago police sergeants (plaintiffs) were not promoted after taking the 1994 exam. The plaintiffs sued the Department under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., alleging the 1994 exam had a disparate impact on the basis of race. At trial, both parties agreed the statistical evidence showed a prima facie case of discrimination. However, the Department maintained that the test was valid, because it had been developed by an outside expert who specialized in promotion testing. The district court found that the expert’s testimony regarding the promotion exam was sufficient to rebut the plaintiffs’ prima facie showing of disparate impact. The plaintiffs appealed, arguing that the expert testimony was inadmissibly unreliable and that the contents of the 1994 exam were invalid as they did not show job-relatedness.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Wood, J.)
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