Ass'n Against Discrimination v. City of Bridgeport, Civ. No. B-75-268.

Citation479 F. Supp. 101
Decision Date24 August 1979
Docket NumberCiv. No. B-75-268.
CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)



David N. Rosen, New Haven, Conn., Michael P. Koskoff, Bridgeport, Conn., for plaintiffs.

Raymond B. Rubens, Bridgeport, Conn., for defendants.

J. Daniel Sagarin, Bridgeport, Conn., for intervenors.

Steven Rosenbaum, Civil Rights Div., U.S. Dept. of Justice, amicus curiae, for United States.


DALY, District Judge.

This employment discrimination case is before this Court on remand from the Court of Appeals. See Association Against Discrimination in Employment v. City of Bridgeport, 594 F.2d 306 (2d Cir. 1979).1 The named plaintiffs represent the class of all black and hispanic persons who are alleged victims of the City of Bridgeport's allegedly discriminatory employment practices with respect to hiring in the Bridgeport Fire Department. The defendants are the City of Bridgeport and its Civil Service Commission, Board of Fire Commissioners, Fire Chief Engineer, and Mayor. A group of Bridgeport's firefighters, Bridgeport Firefighters for Merit Employment, Inc., has been permitted to intervene as defendants-intervenors. Subsequent to the remand by the Court of Appeals, the United States was given leave to participate as amicus curiae.

Plaintiffs allege that defendants have engaged in a policy and practice of discriminating on the basis of race, color, and/or national origin with respect to entry-level employment in the Bridgeport Fire Department, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended 1972, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (1970 ed. and Supp. V); Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq. (1970 ed. and Supp. V); and § 122(a) of the Revenue Sharing Act, 31 U.S.C. § 1242(a) (1976 ed.).2


Title VII


The credible evidence in this case establishes that the City of Bridgeport has a long history of and strong reputation for discriminating against black and hispanic persons in its hiring of firefighters. The City has engaged in a continuing pattern and practice of post-Title VII discrimination, that is discrimination occurring since March 24, 1972, against black and hispanic persons by: (1) failing properly to recruit minority applicants, (2) actively deterring minority persons who have sought to become firefighters, and (3) hiring firefighters on the basis of discriminatory qualifying examinations.

The defendants may be held liable under Title VII only for discrimination occurring after March 24, 1972, the date on which the Act became applicable to municipal employers. Hazelwood School District v. United States, 433 U.S. 299, 309, 97 S.Ct. 2736, 53 L.Ed.2d 768 (1977); International Brotherhood of Teamsters v. United States, 431 U.S. 324, 356-57, 97 S.Ct. 1843, 52 L.Ed.2d 396 (1977). A history of pre-Act discrimination, however, may be used as a backdrop against which to evaluate post-Act conduct. Hazelwood School District v. United States, supra, 433 U.S. at 309 n. 15, 97 S.Ct. 2736 n. 15 (1977). "Proof that an employer engaged in racial discrimination prior to the effective date of Title VII might in some circumstances support the inference that such discrimination continued . . .." Id. Moreover, defendants may be held liable if their post-Act conduct unlawfully perpetuates pre-Act discrimination. Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 401 U.S. 424, 430, 91 S.Ct. 849, 28 L.Ed.2d 158 (1971); United States v. N.L. Industries, Inc., 479 F.2d 354, 360 (8th Cir. 1973); United States v. Sheet Metal Workers Local 36, 416 F.2d 123, 139 (8th Cir. 1969); United States v. Central Motor Lines, Inc., 338 F.Supp. 532, 558-59 (W.D.N.C.1971), appeal on other grounds dismissed sub nom. EEOC v. Central Motor Lines, 537 F.2d 1162 (4th Cir. 1976).

Statistics showing gross disparities between the percentage of minority persons employed by a defendant and the percentage of minority persons in the relevant labor market have been held to establish prima facie proof of discrimination, Hazelwood School District v. United States, supra, 433 U.S. at 307-08, 97 S.Ct. 2736; United States v. Fresno Unified School District, 592 F.2d 1088, 1096 n. 5 (9th Cir. 1979); United States v. Ironworkers Local 86, 443 F.2d 544, 551 & n. 21 (9th Cir.), cert. denied 404 U.S. 984, 92 S.Ct. 447, 30 L.Ed.2d 367 (1971), particularly where supported by evidence of individual instances of discrimination. International Brotherhood of Teamsters v. United States, supra, 431 U.S. at 339, 97 S.Ct. 1843. "Statistics showing racial or ethnic imbalance are probative . . because such imbalance is often a telltale sign of purposeful discrimination . .." Id. at 339-40 n. 20, 97 S.Ct. at 1856 n. 20.


The statistics in this case speak for themselves. Between 1965 and March 24, 1972, the City hired 85 firefighters, 84 of whom were white. Later in 1972, the City hired an additional 28 firefighters, all of whom were white. In 1975, when black and hispanic persons comprised approximately 41% of Bridgeport's labor force, its Fire Department had 427 whites, one hispanic, and no blacks.3 In its entire history prior to 1975, the City had employed only two minority firefighters, one of whom had been hired in 1938. Since 1975, the City has hired an additional 84 firefighters, 81 of whom have been white.4 As the Court of Appeals noted with respect to the composition of the Fire Department in 1975, "no manner of legal argument can justify these unpleasant facts." 594 F.2d at 308.

The statistics in this case, while alone presenting compelling evidence of discrimination by the City, are not the only evidence of such discrimination. The evidence also establishes that in light of its reputation as a discriminatory employer the City has failed properly to recruit minority applicants for the Fire Department and has discriminated against minority individuals who have sought to apply for positions with the Fire Department.

Not surprisingly, the City's reputation as an employer has corresponded to the statistics above. By 1972, the City had established a reputation for employment discrimination against black and hispanic persons that was "by far the worst" of all cities in Connecticut. (Tr. at 733)5 (testimony of Arthur Green, Connecticut Commission on Human Rights & Opportunities). This reputation created the attitude in the black community that "if you're black, just don't apply because you won't get the job." (Tr. at 1963) (testimony of J. Michael Smith, District Director of Association for Bridgeport Community Development). In keeping with this reputation, the City never has made any significant efforts to remedy its situation by recruiting minority applicants for positions in the Fire Department.6 Absolutely no attempts were made to recruit minority applicants for qualifying examinations prior to 1972. Despite the testimony of John Colligan, Personnel Assistant for the City of Bridgeport, that the City had a "very extensive recruitment program" of minority applicants for the 1975 exam (Tr. at 865), the credible evidence established that the City's recruitment efforts for that exam did not approach the dimensions of the "multi-media" campaign described by Colligan. (Id.)7

The only significant minority recruitment effort for the 1975 test was undertaken not by the City but by a coalition of community minority groups coordinated by Thomas Thompson, Director of the United States Labor Department Recruitment and Training Program in Bridgeport. The coalition was formed in 1973 "to try and establish some type of vehicle to assist minorities in gaining access to civil service jobs, particularly in the police and fire department." (Tr. at 46). When the coalition learned the 1975 exam would be given, its members "did on-the-street recruitment, both on the east end, west end, south end, all parts of town, by stopping individuals in pool rooms, bars, individuals walking down the street and asking them were they interested in taking the examination." (Tr. at 54). The coalition held community meetings to inform the minority community of the opportunity to take the firefighters test. Most significantly, the coalition held training sessions and provided instructors to prepare applicants for the test. These sessions were open to anyone, regardless of race, and were held three or four nights a week for three hours each night. Individual applicants attended these sessions for one to two months prior to the exam.

The City was fully aware of the coalition's recruitment efforts, but did little to assist the coalition and, in fact, partially impeded its effort. After the coalition had been formed, Thompson approached the then-Mayor, requesting that the City take action to recruit minority firefighters and offering the coalition's assistance in that effort. The Mayor apparently was receptive to this suggestion, and members of the coalition subsequently met with the City's Civil Service Personnel Director and representatives from the Fire Department. Ultimately, however, the City assisted the coalition in only two ways. First, the Civil Service Commission altered its apparently long-standing policy of requiring applicants to submit applications in person at the Commission's office in City Hall, and permitted the coalition to accept applications at the offices of the Association for Bridgeport Community Development (ABCD).8 As will be discussed later, however, some problems developed relating to the processing of these applications. Second, the Personnel Director, Alan Cohen, provided the coalition with a "notice of examination" that outlined in a general way the subjects to be covered by the test. The notice contained the following language:

Further, candidates must possess the following: mental alertness, mechanical aptitude, aptitude for increasing

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