Ricci v. DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557 (2009) was a controversial case that was decided by the United States Supreme court. The case concerned racial discrimination practices by New Haven, Connecticut’s fire department. The department had eighteen employees where seventeen were white, while there was only one Hispanic. The company in 2003 had seven openings for captain and eight positions for lieutenant. The department administered civil service examinations to fill the positions. The test consisted of two segments where one was oral and the other was written. The New Haven Department of Human Resources issued and RFP for the exams and the IOS designed the examinations.
The exams were administered in November and December 2003 where 118 firefighters seated for the examinations. When the results came out, it showed that approximately half of the black people had failed the examinations compared to the white candidates. The plaintiff and sixteen others were white test takers and one Hispanic all who had qualified for consideration for a promotion. The city and the mayor were sued; the lead plaintiff was Frank Ricci, who had been a firefighter at the station for 11 years. He had given up his second job to allow him study for the assessment. Ricci suffered from dyslexia and had paid an acquaintance $1000 to read his textbooks onto audiotapes.
The reading enabled him to place 6 among 77 people who had taken the lieutenant test. The suit was brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The employees passed the test for promotion to the management of the department and the city; however, they were not promoted. The officials from new haven invalidated the test because, among all the firefighters who had done the test, none of them had scored high enough to be considered for the position. The suit alleged that by discarding the results of the test, the city and the officials had discriminated against the plaintiff based on his race.
The Equal protection clause found in the fourteenth Amendment of the united states constitution states that every citizen of the United States should be given an equal opportunity regardless of their race, color, tribe and creed among others (Cornelius, 2002). The officials and the city defended their actions, arguing that in case they certified the issues the department would have faced liability under Title VII for adoption of a practice that would cause a disparate impact on the minority firefighter in the fire department.
After hearing the arguments on both sides of the case, the Supreme Court issued a decision on June 29, 2009. The court held that New Haven’s decision to ignore the results violated Title VII. Reason being the city did not have a strong basis in evidence that would have allowed it to be subjected to disparate impact liability, in the event that they promoted the Hispanic and the white firefighters instead of the black firefighters.
The New Haven Fire Department
350 paid professional firefighters and paramedics of the New Haven Fire Department (NHFD) protect the city of New Haven through the night and the day. The fire department was organized on June 24, 1862 and one of the largest fire departments in the state of Connecticut. The NHFD in 2013 responded to 27,143 emergency calls. The NHFD has 2 battalions, 10 engines, 10 stations, 4 trucks, 2 squads, 1 fireboat and 1 HAZMAT as well as EMS level ALS & BLS among others.
The Supreme Court decision in Ricci V DeStefano led to the department losing millions of money, as they had to pay settlements to the plaintiff (Klarsfeld, 2010). The NHFD also gave out promotions that were mandated by test. The city is now in double jeopardy as Michael Briscoe an African American is suing the Department for validating the results. The human resource decision to disregard the results of the test, led to the suit that ended up causing the department millions of money and the promotions they did not want to give in the first position.
Human resource is the process of organizing workforce in an organization. The human resources department in any company is responsible for selection, attraction, assessment, and training and rewarding of employees. It also oversees organizational leadership and social education, ensuring that it is compliant with the labor and employment laws. The human resource management liaison with employee representatives such as trade unions to help in discussing employee issues. Therefore, human resource ensures that employees are well paid and they work in a conducive employment. Additionally, they hire employees without discrimination and comply with employment law and the Constitution of the United States.
Human resource is governed by various theories that support in governing of employees. Humans are motivated by interrelated factors that include need for affiliation, money and desire to have meaningful work. All employees have a diversity of goals and talents in the way they complete their task and the uniqueness they bring to the company. It is the responsibility of the human resources department to tap any potential that they see in the workplace. Tapping employees’ potential can only be achieved if the employees are motivated (Lockwood, 2005). Hence, the organizational theories of motivation help in managing staff and employees in the workplace. The theories suggest that employees to be motivated, have to be content with their work. Content theories state that Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is based on the concept that suggests that humans are motivated to satisfy their needs before they progress to a higher stage.
Maslow Hierarchy of Needs is categorized in three deficiencies and two needs where the needs are psychological in that they relate to survival, safety and security and belongingness or the desire for acceptance. This further leads to esteem, ego, and self-actualization where a person gets to realize their full potential. The Alderfer’s ERG theory reduced the five needs to three which include existence, relatedness and growth. The Maslow and Alderfer’s theories on Human resource have been said not to fully explain the needs of employees and they resonate with several ideas of human resource management.
The McGregor’s X theory and Y theory explain better the concepts of human resource as it states that employees should have favorable working conditions as they motivate them to perform efficiently, develop and grow to the full potential of the employee (Thomas, 2005). The X theory states that employees should be able to satisfy their needs by working in meaning working conditions, as they will be motivated to reach a higher level through promotions in the company. Process theory is also important in explaining human resource functions in an organization because it explains the consequences an employee may encounter in an organization, in case of bad or good behavior.
In the process theory, there is expectancy theory, which consists of four elements. They include the results, valence energy performance and performance outcome. Therefore, the level of motivation in an employee depends on the valence of the result, which is achieved through the effort of achieving the desired results. Therefore, theories of human resource are aimed at motivating employees in achieving the goals and objectives of the company.
Diversity in the workplace
Ignoring diversity in the workplace has many consequences where costs the management or the employer money, time and efficiency as they try to recover from lawsuits. Additionally, ignoring diversity in the company makes tensions between employees, thus leading to loss of productivity due to increased conflict. The management of human resources becomes weak because they are unable to retain and attract employees who are talent. Ignorance also causes loss of investments in recruitment and training that happens all the time in the business. Therefore, through motivational and organizational theories of human resource management the management should treat all employees in the workplace with fair and same treatment to avoid lawsuits and less productivity.
Analysis of court’s decision
The court in a 5-4 ruling decided that the reasoning of the New Haven fire department was held not to be reasonable in the sense that fear of litigation could not justify an employer reliance on race as a determinant of people or employees who passed the test and qualified for promotion. The decision of the court was held to generate a bevy of disparate impact because it made harder for employers to disregard the test that had adverse effects on protected groups such as minorities and women. The reason the case was held to be reverse discrimination was the fact that the people who were being discriminated in this case were white people. The human resource thought that by disregarding the test results just because there were no enough black people or Hispanic who had passed the exams they would violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
New Haven forgot that all employees are equal regardless of their race, color, tribe or creed. Therefore, if they used the treat to give out promotions if enough black people had not passed the exam, then it would have been their fault because they had not studied enough as the rest of the people who had passed (Simmons-Welburn & McNeil, 2004). Therefore, the city’s action of disregarding the assessment con constituted intentional race based discrimination and the defense they gave was not valid as they were in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
The decision by the Supreme Court did not change the employer’s affirmative action or their obligation when it comes to the use of and validation of tests. However, employers must investigate alternative selection methods procedures. Human resource managers must comply with Nondiscrimination obligations to identify whether they bring out any problem or adverse impact relation to race, gender or ethnic group. This ensures that they prevent prohibited discrimination from occurring in an organization.
I affirm with the decision of the Supreme Court where it has prohibited intentional discrimination in the workplace. Additionally, the law prohibits neutral practices that have a disparate impact on members of racial groups (Plauid, 2012). The court stated that, in case, the company needs to carry out a test that would amount to discriminatory results they should realize the potential risk of racial impact during the design stage, when the test is being made. Therefore, the court’s decision was right, as they wanted all employees to be treated equally. According to policies and practices of employment, it is the role of managers in the business to ensure that, the policies in the company are based on the interest of employees. Reason being when all employees are given equal opportunities that are able to achieve the company goals and objectives.
The United States constitution provides that all people should be treated equally and fairly. The New Have fire department violated the employee’s constitutional rights under the equal protection clause. The decision had a greater impact on employee’s rights because before an employer makes any decision regarding promotion of employees in the workplace, he or she must establish whether the decision will cause any form of discrimination (Thiederman, 2008). This means that all employees are given equal employment opportunities regardless of their environment. In the case of the employer, he or she has to ensure that policies and practices enacted in the business comply with employment and labor laws to avoid the law suits that will consume the company’s money, time and will lead to loss of productivity.
Strategies in the workplace practices
Human resources managers should know that a workplace is a place where employees from different backgrounds meet and all employees have different goal and objectives. For that reason, it is their obligation to ensure that they provide a conducive working environment where all employees are treated equally. Therefore, the employee should come with policies that ensure that no labor or employment laws are violated. Human resources managers should understand that it is their duty to provide a comfortable workplace. Employees should be treated with respect as through respect they can perform optimally.
The management may come up with strategies to help in creating value and diversity in the workplace. First, the management should come up with unconditional compliance. This can be accomplished by ensuring that leadership and staff are up to date with employment and labor laws. The management should stay abreast of changes under the National Labor Relation Act and understanding affirmative action requirements under Executive order 11246. There should also be an audit on the organizations fair employment policies and practices as well as hiring decisions.
The business should also be committed to the community explanation being an organization’s commitment to diversity is only as good as its commitment to the community. The community means client base and, therefore, having good relations with the community is important for the business. This increases and strengthens the community relationship between the community and the business (Pincus, 2003). Staff and leadership training are also another approach that can be used to improve diversity in the business in that when employees do things together they learn how to cope with each other. However, the leadership and training should not be made mandatory and employees and staff can be allowed to practice their beliefs and values. By so doing, employees will feel that the organization is not forcing them to do something that they do not want to do.
Top down support is another strategy that can be used in the workplace to help in the advancement of diversity. This approach requires strengthening of communication, where the top members of the employment should work with other employees to encourage diversity. Reason being top brass tends to trickle down to staff levels, which makes it easier to show employees the value of workplace diversity. The management should also develop top-level values such as excellence, service, commitment, integrity and openness (Menzel & White, 2011). By so doing, the company will be fostering equal opportunity in the workplace as well as equality. Reason being nothing is more important than creating an equal and diverse workplace for not only the employees, but also the community as a whole.
Diversity in the workplace promotes communication in the workplace as employees and the management can communicate freely as they are treated as people who belong to the business. Therefore, by coming up with strategies that promote diversity it ensures that the company is not followed by lawsuits that may ruin the corporation’s reputation and lower its productivity. Diversity also brings employees together and it and by so doing they become commitment to their job and the company ends up attaining its goals and objectives as the staff and employees work together towards a general objective.
The Ricci v. DeStefano was a landmark case that brought out the issue of reverse discrimination, where it was held that employers should be careful about the policies and practices that they make to avoid lawsuits of discrimination. For example, the New Haven fire department thought that by disregarding the results of the test for promoting employees they were doing it in the best interest of the employee’s. However, they did not consider the fact that there were other employees who had taken their time to study for the exam.
Therefore, it is important for employers to provide compliance policies and practices that will help in promoting diversity, in the company and treating all employees equally. This will ensure that they do not violate the equal protection right under the United States constitution and Article VII of the Civil Rights Act. The businesses should ensure that they comply with employment and labor laws. The company can implement strategies of diversity by bringing together all employees and asking their opinions about the laws that have been set by the business. Allowing employees to help with compliance strategy would be convenient for the company because employees come together as a team regardless of their background. Diversity in the workplace is important not only to the business, but for the community. The community is the client base and by employing diverse employees in the business, it helps in the growth of the community. Therefore, corporations should be careful about the policies they create in the company, as they may have an adverse effect on the business if they are found to be in violation any employment and labor laws.
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