Appeals Court Rejects New York Reverse Discrimination Suit

The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling yesterday in a reverse discrimination case brought by a white firefighter from Mount Vernon, New York.

Firefighter Joseph Carroll took a lieutenant’s exam in 2004 and ranked 9th on the list. The list was good for 2 years, and due to expire in 2006. When the development of a new promotional list was delayed, the expiration date of the 2004 list was extended to July 19, 2007.

By 2007, Carroll ranked second on the lieutenant’s list. A new test was finally administered on March 24, 2007 to replace the old list, but Carroll’s new rank on the list was 16th.

As the expiration deadline for the 2004 list approached in July of 2007, there were two lieutenant vacancies that needed to be filled. Carroll and another white firefighter, Justin Chase, were being considered and were granted interviews with the Mayor. The Vulcan Society intervened and contended that the extension of the old list from 2006 to 2007 violated a consent decree that the city agreed to.

The city opted to move the effective date of new list up to July 9, 2007 and let the deadline pass without making the promotions. That decision prompted Carroll’s suit alleging reverse discrimination.

The trial court ruled against Carroll in 2010, finding he could not prove that the city’s motivation in moving up the effective date of the new list was race-based. On appeal, the Second Circuit agreed, concluding that Carroll “offered no evidence that the City’s decision to accelerate the effective date of the 2007 List was made after the Vulcan Society threatened to bring litigation if the 2004 List were used…. Indeed, the only reference in the record to acceleration of the effective date of the 2007 List …  suggests that the decision to accelerate it from July 19 to July 9 or 10 was made before the Vulcan Society threatened litigation.”

Here is a copy of the ruling. Carroll v Mt Vernon

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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