Residents Only Requirements May Constitute Race Discrimination – NAACP v. North Hudson Reg’l Fire & Rescue

Hiring requirements – such as English only rules, passing a test or living in a certain area- may be considered racial discrimination depending on the circumstances. In a recent case, the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals determined that a Regional Fire and Rescue squad that had a rule stating that only residents could be hired as firefighters was racially discriminatory. Although the rule on its face was not discriminatory, when put it place it had a disparate impact on African American applicants.

In NAACP v. North Hudson Reg’l Fire & Rescue the fire department had a rule that only residents of North Hudson could be hired as firefighters. The NAACP challenged this rule, arguing that the impact of the residency requirement was to effectively exclude African Americans. The population of North Hudson is 69.6% Hispanic, 22.9% non-Hispanic and 3.4% African American. However, the makeup of the firefighters was disproportionate to the population with 240 white non-Hispanics, 58 Hispanics and only 2 African Americans. If the labor market were to include the tri-county region, rather than just the limited area, significantly more African Americans would be eligible and qualified for employment.

Under Title VII, practices that have the unintentional effect of discriminating based on race are prohibited. Here, using a residents-only caused a disparate impact and North Hudson failed to take any steps to remedy the adverse effects. Further, no business necessity existed to maintain the residency requirement. As a result, the court determined that the NAACP could maintain its action for race discrimination against North Hudson Fire & Rescue.

Many times an action that may appear to be neutral actually has the effect of causing employment discrimination.

If you believe you have suffered employment discrimination due to an employment action such a term or condition, it is important to speak with a knowledgeable employment discrimination attorney.

For more information, contact the experienced Atlanta employment discrimination attorneys at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP for an immediate case evaluation.