Reporting from Washington – The controversy over racial bias, testing and firefighters that blew up at both the Supreme Court and the Senate last year returns Monday, this time as the justices decide whether blacks who were not hired in Chicago because of their test scores are due damages for years of lost wages.
The potentially $100-million civil rights case comes before a high court that has already shown its skepticism toward such claims.
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Last year, the justices ruled for white firefighters in New Haven, Conn., who said they were victims of illegal racial discrimination when the city threw out the results of a promotion test. The whites had earned high scores and would have gotten nearly all the promotions. City officials dropped the test results because they feared being sued by blacks who were denied promotions.
By contrast, the city of Chicago was sued for illegal discrimination by more than 6,000 African Americans who earned “qualified” scores on an entry-level test given by the Fire Department, but who lost out to mostly white applicants who had higher, “well qualified” scores.