NJ Employment Discrimination in Hiring | North Hudson County Firefighters

By Thomas McKinney

There are two types of NJ employment discrimination: (1) disparate treatment which is intentional discrimination and (2) disparate impact which is unintentional discrimination.

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers New Jersey, recently ruled that a Fire District’s requirement of hiring only home-town residents unintentionally discriminated against African-American firefighter candidates.  See NAACP v. North Hudson Reg. Fire & Rescue (3rd Circuit, December 12, 2011).

In that case, the Fire District comprised of five towns in northern Hudson County – Guttenberg, North Bergen, Union City, Weehawken, and West New York – which are mostly Hispanic in population (69.6% Hispanic, 22.9% white, and 3.4% African-American).  The resident-only policy led to hiring “only two African-American firefighters (0.62% of its firefighters), despite an African-American population of 3.4%.”  The Fire District claimed it needed the resident-only policy to employ “a certain number of Spanish-speaking firefighters in a region that is 69% Hispanic.” But the Fire District “failed to establish that the residency requirement leads to a greater number of Spanish-speaking firefighters.”

In addition, the court found that “there are non-discriminatory ways to ensure the hiring of Spanish-speaking firefighters. Rather than seek out Spanish-speakers by making the imprecise assumption that North Hudson residents are more likely to speak Spanish, [the Fire District] could, and actually does, seek out bilingual candidates.”  Moreover, “community pride is not a sufficient justification for a discriminatory hiring practice.” As a result, the court invalidated the Fire District’s resident-only hiring policy as discriminating against African-American job candidates.

Contact Castronovo & McKinney at 973-920-7888 for immediate assistance.

About the Author
Tom McKinney is an experienced NJ Employment Lawyer in all major areas of labor and employment law, including discrimination, harassment, overtime violations, wage and hour claims, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, Title VII, ADA, ADEA, FMLA, LAD, FLSA, and all other employment law claims. Tom is admitted to practice in the States of New Jersey and New York, United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Southern District of New York, District of New Jersey, and United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Prior to forming the firm, Tom practiced at Gibbons P.C. in Newark, NJ. If you have any questions regarding this article, contact Tom here today.