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High Court Rules in Another Firefighter Discrimination Suit

By FindLaw Staff on May 24, 2010 2:45 PM

Lewis v. Chicago, No. 08-974, concerned a Title VII action challenging Chicago's practice of selecting only applicants to firefighter positions who scored 89 or above on a written examination because of its disparate impact on African-Americans.  The Court reversed the Seventh Circuit's reversal of judgment for plaintiff, holding that a plaintiff who does not file a timely charge challenging the adoption of a practice may assert a disparate impact claim in a timely charge challenging the employer's later application of that practice as long as he alleges each of the elements of a disparate impact claim.

As the Court wrote:  "Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from using employment practices that cause a disparate impact on the basis of race (among other bases). 42 U. S. C. §2000e-2(k)(1)(A)(i). It also requires plaintiffs, before beginning a federal lawsuit, to file a timely charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). §2000e-5(e)(1). We consider whether a plaintiff who does not file a timely charge challenging the adoption of a practice--here, an employer's decision to exclude employment applicants who did not achieve a certain score on an examination--may assert a disparate-impact claim in a timely charge challenging the employer's later application of that practice."

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