252 F.3d 891 (7th Cir. 2001), 00-1867, Bew v City of Chicago

Docket Nº:00-1867
Citation:252 F.3d 891
Party Name:Sheila R. Bew, Rainier Conley, Walter Griffin, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. City of Chicago and Illinois Local Government Law Enforcement Officers Training Board, Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:May 15, 2001
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

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252 F.3d 891 (7th Cir. 2001)

Sheila R. Bew, Rainier Conley, Walter Griffin, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,


City of Chicago and Illinois Local Government Law Enforcement Officers Training Board, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 00-1867

In the United States Court of Appeals, For the Seventh Circuit

May 15, 2001

Argued January 18, 2001

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 96 C 1488--Rebecca R. Pallmeyer, Judge.

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Before Bauer, Manion, and Diane P. Wood, Circuit Judges.

Bauer, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiffs, probationary police officers discharged for failing the Illinois Law Enforcement Officers Certification Examination, complain that the exam as administered by the defendants, the City of Chicago and the Illinois Local Government Law Enforcement Officers Training Board, had a disparate impact on African-American and Hispanic (hereafter "minority") officers in violation of Title VII. The parties agree that plaintiffs established prima facie disparate impact. This appeal focuses on whether the City and the Board established that the minimum passing score and the rule that probationary officers pass the exam in three tries ("three strikes rule") satisfied the business necessity standard. We believe that the defendants met their burden of showing business necessity and we affirm the district court's decision.

I. Background

The Board is charged under state law to enforce the Illinois Police Board Training Act 50 ILCS 705/1 by setting minimum standards for the training of police officers. As part of its efforts, the Board created an exam for probationary officers. After their graduation from the police academy, officers are assigned regular job duties on a probationary basis until they pass the exam. The City administered the exam on a voluntary basis in exchange for additional training monies until 1996, when the exam became mandatory under Illinois law. Plaintiffs are nine of the failing African-American officers.

To develop the certification exam, the Board hired Justex Systems Inc., consultants with experience in peace officer training. Justex surveyed active officers and their supervisors to determine the knowledge and skills essential for entry-level police officers. It then developed

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performance objectives, and a training curriculum for the police academy, and designed the certification exam to test the new curriculum. Justex employed a multi-step process when developing the exam. Justex designed a multiple-choice exam, each question having four potential answers. It created an 800 question pool. Each question had four possible answers. Justex tested the questions on graduating recruits for six months. After analyzing the results, Justex modified the questions, eliminating or changing some because they were misleading and some because minorities disproportionately chose the wrong answer.

Justex then tackled the task of setting the minimum passing score. Justex created exams which allotted to various subjects the same emphasis they were given in the police academy curriculum. Justex pre- tested the exam on recent graduates who had studied the new curriculum and on incumbent officers who had two to five years of experience on the police force. For minimum score purposes, Justex considered only the incumbent officers' pre-tests and determined that the average exam score was 145.43 (rounded to 145) out of 200. To...

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