26 September 2023

UNITED STATES: Firefighters in court over cancelled exams

Start the conversation

Firefighters in the US State of Massachusetts are going to court in an effort to get their promotional examination results reinstated.

They are seeking intervention following a decision by the Massachusetts Human Resources Division to cancel promotional exams for firefighters following a years-long legal fight over discrimination in the promotion process.

The cancellation results from a Suffolk Superior Court ruling that found promotional exams for police sergeants were biased and prevented minority officers from rising through the ranks.

The State said the decision affecting firefighter promotional exams was made because there is a similarity in the format and scoring of the tests.

A State official said the Human Resources Division would not score the September police promotional exam.

It has also cancelled an upcoming State-wide fire lieutenant and captain exam.

The moves stem from a class action lawsuit filed in 2009 that challenged the promotional exam format on behalf of Black and Hispanic police officers, who alleged a pattern of discrimination in the police sergeant promotional exams.

Last month (October) a ruling was finally made, with Associate Justice Douglas Wilkins finding that the Massachusetts Human Resources Division “knew that written multiple choice exams that generate a list, ranked in order of scores, systematically affects Black and Hispanic candidates adversely compared to white candidates”.

While the tests are on hold, a spokesman said the Human Resources Division was exploring all options to determine a short-term solution to departmental staffing requirements.

Boston, 18 November 2022

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.