The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a group of black applicants did not wait too long to sue the Chicago Fire Department over a hiring test they challenged as discriminatory.
The case involved a test used to weed out firefighter applicants. Anyone who scored 64 or below was deemed not qualified. But the city set a second cutoff score of 89 points. Officials told applicants who scored below 89 but above 64 that although they passed the test, they likely would not be hired because of the large number of people who scored 89 or above. Only 11 percent of those scoring 89 or more were black.
The clock normally starts running on civil rights cases 300 days after the employment action is taken. The first lawsuit was filed on March 31, 1997, 430 days after the test results were announced.
But the plaintiffs contended a new act of discrimination happened each time the city used the scores to hire firefighter trainees between May 1996 and October 2001, when the city stopped using the 89 point cutoff score. The Supreme Court agreed, overturning a 7th Circuit ruling that said the lawsuit was too late.
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