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.
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