¶ … New Haven Firefighters Affirmative Action Case
Employers frequently utilize tests and other choice methods in order to screen candidates for hire and workers for promotion. There are a lot of different kinds of tests and selection procedures, including cognitive tests, personality tests, medical examinations, credit checks, and criminal background checks. The utilization of tests and other selection measures can be a very successful way of determining which candidates or workers are most qualified for a particular job. On the other hand, the use of these apparatus can infringe on the federal anti-discrimination laws if an employer deliberately uses them to discriminate based on race, color, sex, national origin, religion, disability, or age. The utilization of tests and other selection measures can also violate the federal anti-discrimination laws if they unduly eliminate people in a particular group by race, sex, or another covered basis, unless the employer can give good reason for the test or process under the law (Recruiting and Retaining a Diverse Workforce, 2003).
As the key to the successful development of promotional exams, the EEOC has set up the Uniform Guidelines for Employee Selection which necessitates an employer to institute, by study and documentation, an association between the knowledge, skills, and abilities essential for achievement in a position, and the result of the selection mechanism used to make choices or rankings. The amount of correlation and correctness must be assessed and recognized, and this becomes more significant if the selection mechanism is used to establish a rank order for hiring, as opposed to the formation of a pool or group of qualified candidates which are hired on more prejudiced criteria or additional exercises. These Guidelines found a procedure of mounting, documenting, examining, administering, and assessing post-administration, and of ongoing to implement a worker selection process which reduces possible adverse impact on protected minority groups (Rodriguez, 2011).
In 2003, the New Haven Fire Department in Connecticut gave a test intended to measure eligibility for promotions to lieutenant and captain. Scores for Hispanics and for African-Americans came in 34 to 59% below the scores for whites. Due to the manner in which the promotions were structured, no African-American and only one Hispanic would have been given any of the fifteen promotions. The problem then became whether the Civil Service Board would validate the exam results. After five days of hearings, the board decided the test was faulty and decided not to promote anyone founded on the exam (Totenberg, 2009).
Almost all written promotional tests have a disparate impact or adverse impact on minorities. A lot of research indicates that blacks score an average of one standard deviation below whites on cognitive exams. This difference is recognized to be due to an assortment of reasons, none of them connected to the knowledge, skills and abilities of firefighters with respect to each other or in the performance of the job. Nor is such performance connected to study habits, as so many cities and firefighters like to think. It is easy to take courses to get ready to study and take multiple choice tests but how one scores on such written tests is not an indication of how well they will do their job, which is the legal condition of what any promotional or hiring test should look for (Disparate Impact in Promotional Testing, n.d.)
Almost all tests for safety workforces entail an appraisal portion of the examination. Because such tests are so extensively diverse, this part of the examination creates particular hazards for sufficient and unbiased testing and criterion. When designing tests one needs to evaluate the factors in the examinations, such as whether they are written, oral,...
Possible bias can creep in by way of subjective grading, whether there are checks and balances, whether knowledgeable personnel are doing the evaluating, whether the test correctly gauges officer qualities or whether the arrangement of how the test scenarios are presented (Disparate Impact in Promotional Testing, n.d.)
The need for a diverse workforce is an essential part of the human resource necessities connected with triumphant constant quality improvement plans. A diverse workforce in which the offerings of each member, faculty, staff, or administrator, are appreciated and esteemed is an institution's most vital quality. Such a workforce is able to manufacture an assortment of viewpoints and processes for the victorious completion of tasks. Employers can build on well-known individual and group forces and develop standards that generate an atmosphere to get the best out of each person (Recruiting and Retaining a Diverse Workforce, 2003).
A vital feature in the recruitment and retention of a diverse workforce is the growth of managers and supervisors within the staff and faculty who have the abilities to employ, supervise, and guide diverse populations. Managing diversity inside the workplace means generating an atmosphere where each faculty and staff member is authorized to add to the work of the unit, being receptive and attentive to the interactions amid and between faculty and staff, and communicating clear expectations about behaviors in the workplace. Effectual mentoring in a multicultural environment entails presenting opportunities for faculty and staff to find out about diverse people and cultures. It means appreciating diverse learning styles and advances to problem-solving. Most appreciably, though, mentoring in a diverse workplace necessitates stipulation of suitable feedback to those being supervised about the contribution of their work and actions (Recruiting and Retaining a Diverse Workforce, 2003).
Because it is significant for fire departments to have diverse workforces it is very important that managers have the right tools available to them to conduct promotions. While the process will always be tedious, carefully choosing which tests to use and which competency areas to measure are the most important strategic factors to consider when looking at promotional testing. The idea is to carrying out promotional testing with the least adverse impacts.
Beyond the adverse impact issues that can happen with promotions there are other substantial problems that can occur when a fire department adopts an unbalanced hiring process. A testing process that leaves out or under measures important cognitive skills will result in the washing out of a significant number of people. It can also lead to poor performance on the job. On the other hand, over-measuring an area while under-measuring personal characteristics, could lead to a group of book-smart firefighters who have no idea how to work cooperatively in the close living conditions necessary for firefighters. Under-measuring physical abilities in the hiring process characteristically lead to a group of firefighters who cannot perform the tiring physical requirements of the job, particularly as they age in the fire service (Biddle, n.d.).
When utilizing test for hiring and promotion practices it is imperative for employers to make sure that certain things are done. These things include:
Employers should give tests and other selection measures without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age or disability.
Employers should make sure that employment tests and other selection measures are correctly validated for the positions and purposes for which they are utilized. The test or selection measure must be job-related and its consequences fitting for the employer's purpose.
If a selection measure screens out a protected group, the employer should decide whether there is a uniformly effectual alternative selection procedure that has less adverse impact and, if so, adopt the substitute procedure. For instance, if the selection procedure is a test, the employer should establish whether another test would forecast job performance but not excessively exclude the protected group.
To make sure that a test or selection measure continues to be predictive of achievement in a job, employers should keep on top of changes in job requirements and should revise the test specifications or selection measures as a result.
Employers should make sure that tests and selection measures are not put into place carelessly by managers who know little about these practices. A test or selection process can be an effective management tool, but no test or selection procedure should be put into practice without an appreciation of its effectiveness and boundaries for the organization, its suitability for a specific job, and whether it can be properly given and scored (Employment Tests and Selection Procedures, 2010).
In the promotion circumstance, one of the principal myths in testing is that cognitive tests decide on the most qualified candidates for promotion. This is not necessarily the case, principally in a firefighter context. Job knowledge tests have little worth in forecasting how any applicant will actually perform in the job. In fact, at least one peer-reviewed study has shown that lack of job knowledge is usually a negligible reason for the failure of any executive on the job (Disparate Impact in Promotional Testing, n.d.)
Further indication of this is that some jurisdictions have gotten rid of written promotional tests altogether for their safety workforces or have used them as entrance requirements and then combine them with other things, such as performance, assessment centers, and the like. In any case, in firefighter…
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