A note from St. Louis City Counselor Patti Hageman:
In his [newspaper] column [on Sunday, August 5, 2007], Sylvester Brown mischaracterized the Court’s decision in the St. Louis firefighter promotions case. Mr. Brown wrote that the core issue was whether the tests intentionally discriminated against African American firefighters. The Court threw out that allegation before the case even went to trial. A core issue during the trial was whether the 2004 promotional tests adequately measured a candidate’s ability to do the job. The Court ruled that, in fact, they did.
In its opinion, the Court ruled that the tests were job related for the positions in question because they tested the relevant knowledge, skills and abilities that underlie the performance of Fire Captain and Battalion Chief positions.
At trial, the City presented expert testimony that included charts linking each and every test item on all components of both the Fire Captain and Battalion Chief tests to both the major work behavior involved and the specific knowledge, skill or ability the item is designed to test. The City’s expert testimony also explained how the questions for the written test and other examination components were developed to ensure that the content of the questions would be tied to the critical and frequent work tasks of the Fire Captains and Battalion Chiefs. In contrast, the plaintiffs’ expert admitted on cross-examination that he did not detect anything that was not job-related in the component parts of the 2004 examinations.
The validity, or job-relatedness, of the 2004 Fire Captain and Battalion Chief exams was fully and completely litigated. The Court ruled the tests are valid.
There should be no further misunderstanding about this.