Ricci v. DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557

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The Supreme Court's decision in Ricci v. DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557.

Text of Ricci v. DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557


    underlying response by school administra-tors was reasonable and justified. I can-not join this regrettable decision. I, there-fore, respectfully dissent from the Courtsdetermination that this search violated theFourth Amendment.


    Frank RICCI et al., Petitioners,


    John DeSTEFANO et al.

    Frank Ricci, et al., Petitioners,


    John DeStefano et al.Nos. 071428, 08328.

    Argued April 22, 2009.

    Decided June 29, 2009.

    Background: White firefighters and oneHispanic firefighter sued city and city offi-cials, alleging that city violated Title VIIby refusing to certify results of promotion-al examination, based on citys belief thatits use of results could have disparate im-pact on minority firefighters. The UnitedStates District Court for the District ofConnecticut, Janet Bond Arterton, J., 554F.Supp.2d 142, entered summary judg-ment for city and city officials. Firefightersappealed. The Court of Appeals, 530 F.3d87, affirmed. Certiorari was granted.

    Holdings: The Supreme Court, JusticeKennedy, held that:

    (1) citys refusal to certify results was vio-lation of Title VIIs disparate-treat-ment prohibition absent some valid de-fense;

    (2) before employer can engage in inten-tional discrimination for asserted pur-

    pose of avoiding unintentional dispa-rate impact, employer must havestrong basis in evidence to believe itwill be subject to disparate-impact lia-bility if it fails to take race-consciousaction;

    (3) city officials lacked strong basis in evi-dence to believe that examinationswere not job-related and consistentwith business necessity; and

    (4) city officials lacked strong basis in evi-dence to believe there existed equallyvalid, less-discriminatory alternative touse of examinations that served citysneeds but that city refused to adopt.

    Reversed and remanded.

    Justice Scalia filed concurring opinion.

    Justice Alito filed concurring opinionjoined by Justices Scalia and Thomas.

    Justice Ginsburg filed dissenting opinionjoined by Justices Stevens, Souter, andBreyer.

    1. Constitutional Law O976

    Federal Courts O462

    Because decision for firefighters ontheir statutory Title VII claim would pro-vide relief sought in their action allegingviolations of Title VII and their equal pro-tection rights, Supreme Court would con-sider statutory claim first. U.S.C.A.Const.Amend. 14; Civil Rights Act of 1964, 701 et seq., 42 U.S.C.A. 2000e et seq.

    2. Civil Rights O1138, 1140

    Title VII prohibits both intentionaldiscrimination, known as disparate treat-ment, as well as, in some cases, practicesthat are not intended to discriminate butin fact have a disproportionately adverseeffect on minorities, known as disparate

  • 2659RICCI v. DESTEFANOCite as 129 S.Ct. 2658 (2009)

    impact. Civil Rights Act of 1964, 701et seq., 42 U.S.C.A. 2000e et seq.

    See publication Words and Phras-es for other judicial constructionsand definitions.

    3. Civil Rights O1138Disparate-treatment Title VII cases

    present the most easily understood type ofdiscrimination, and occur where an em-ployer has treated a particular person lessfavorably than others because of a protect-ed trait. Civil Rights Act of 1964, 703(a)(1), 42 U.S.C.A. 2000e2(a)(1).

    4. Civil Rights O1138A disparate-treatment Title VII plain-

    tiff must establish that the defendant hada discriminatory intent or motive for tak-ing a job-related action. Civil Rights Actof 1964, 703(a)(1), 42 U.S.C.A. 2000e2(a)(1).

    5. Civil Rights O1142, 1234Citys refusal to certify results of fire-

    fighter promotion examination, based oncitys belief that doing so could have dispa-rate impact on minority firefighters be-cause white candidates had outperformedminority candidates, was violation of TitleVIIs disparate-treatment prohibition ab-sent some valid defense, since, howeverwell intentioned or benevolent citys moti-vation might have seemed, city made itsemployment decision because of race.Civil Rights Act of 1964, 703(a)(1), 42U.S.C.A. 2000e2(a)(1).

    6. Civil Rights O1104, 1107The purpose of Title VII is that the

    workplace be an environment free of dis-crimination, where race is not a barrier toopportunity. Civil Rights Act of 1964, 701 et seq., 42 U.S.C.A. 2000e et seq.

    7. Statutes O207When two prohibitions in a statute

    could be in conflict absent a rule to recon-cile them, the Supreme Court must inter-pret the statute to give effect to bothprovisions where possible.

    8. Civil Rights O1140

    It is not impermissible under TitleVII for an employer to take race-basedadverse employment actions in order toavoid disparate-impact liability. CivilRights Act of 1964, 701 et seq., 42U.S.C.A. 2000e et seq.

    9. Civil Rights O1140, 1529

    An employer is not required to be inviolation of Title VIIs disparate-impactprovision before it can use compliance as adefense in a disparate-treatment suit.Civil Rights Act of 1964, 703(a)(1),(k)(1)(A)(i), 42 U.S.C.A. 2000e2(a)(1),(k)(1)(A)(i).

    10. Civil Rights O1104, 1515

    Congress intended for voluntary com-pliance to be the preferred means ofachieving the objectives of Title VII. CivilRights Act of 1964, 701 et seq., 42U.S.C.A. 2000e et seq.

    11. Civil Rights O1140

    An employers good-faith belief thatits actions are necessary to comply withTitle VIIs disparate-impact provision isnot enough to justify race-conscious con-duct. Civil Rights Act of 1964, 703(a)(1),42 U.S.C.A. 2000e2(a)(1).

    12. Civil Rights O1104, 1121

    The purpose of Title VII is to promotehiring on the basis of job qualifications,rather than on the basis of race or color.Civil Rights Act of 1964, 701 et seq., 42U.S.C.A. 2000e et seq.

    13. Civil Rights O1140

    Congress has imposed Title VII liabil-ity on employers for unintentional discrim-ination in order to rid the workplace ofpractices that are fair in form, but discrim-inatory in operation. Civil Rights Act of1964, 703(k)(1)(A)(i), 42 U.S.C.A. 2000e2(k)(1)(A)(i).


    14. Civil Rights O1142, 1238An employer does not violate Title

    VII by making affirmative efforts to usetesting to ensure that all groups have afair opportunity to apply for promotionsand to participate in the process by whichpromotions will be made, but once thatprocess has been established and employ-ers have made clear their selection crite-ria, they may not then invalidate the testresults, thus upsetting an employees legit-imate expectation not to be judged on thebasis of race. Civil Rights Act of 1964, 703(j), 42 U.S.C.A. 2000e2(j).

    15. Civil Rights O1118, 1142Title VII does not prohibit an employ-

    er from considering, before administeringa test or practice, how to design that testor practice in order to provide a fair op-portunity for all individuals, regardless oftheir race. Civil Rights Act of 1964, 701et seq., 42 U.S.C.A. 2000e et seq.

    16. Civil Rights O1140, 1238Under Title VII, before an employer

    can engage in intentional discriminationfor the asserted purpose of avoiding orremedying an unintentional disparate im-pact, the employer must have a strongbasis in evidence to believe it will be sub-ject to disparate-impact liability if it failsto take the race-conscious, discriminatoryaction. Civil Rights Act of 1964, 703(a)(1), (k)(1)(A)(i), 42 U.S.C.A. 2000e2(a)(1), (k)(1)(A)(i).

    17. Federal Civil Procedure O2543On a motion for summary judgment,

    facts must be viewed in the light mostfavorable to the nonmoving party only ifthere is a genuine dispute as to those facts.Fed.Rules Civ.Proc.Rule 56(c), 28 U.S.C.A.

    18. Federal Civil Procedure O2470Where the record taken as a whole

    could not lead a rational trier of fact tofind for the summary judgment nonmov-

    ant, there is no genuine issue for trial.Fed.Rules Civ.Proc.Rule 56(c), 28 U.S.C.A.

    19. Civil Rights O1140A prima facie case of disparate-impact

    liability under Title VII is essentially athreshold showing of a significant statisti-cal disparity and nothing more. CivilRights Act of 1964, 703(k)(1)(A)(i), 42U.S.C.A. 2000e2(k)(1)(A)(i).

    20. Civil Rights O1142, 1234City officials lacked strong basis in

    evidence to believe that citys promotionalexaminations for firefighters were not job-related and consistent with business neces-sity, and that use of examination results inwhich white candidates outperformed mi-nority candidates, therefore would havedisparate impact on minorities, and, thus,officials failed to establish defense on suchbasis to liability under Title VIIs dispa-rate-treatment provision, where writtenexaminations were devised after painstak-ing analyses of captain and lieutenant posi-tions, examinations developer drew ques-tions from source material approved byfire department, developer addressed chal-lenges to particular questions, and cityturned blind eye to evidence that sup-ported examinations validity. Civil RightsAct of 1964, 703(a)(1), (k)(1)(A)(i), 42U.S.C.A. 2000e2(a)(1), (k)(1)(A)(i).

    21. Civil Rights O1142, 1234City officials lacked strong basis in

    evidence to believe there existed equallyvalid, less-discriminatory alternative to useof citys promotional examinations thatserved citys needs but that city refused toadopt because white candidates had out-performed minority candidates, and thatuse of examination results therefore wouldhave disparate impact on minorities, and,thus, officials failed to establish defense onsuch basis to liability under Title VIIsdisparate-treatment provision, where therewas no evidence that changing formula for

  • 2661RICCI v. DESTEFANOCite as 129 S.Ct. 2658 (2009)

    weighing written and oral portions of testwas equally valid way of choosing candi-dates, banding alternative would haveviolate