M.O.C.H.A. Soc'y, Inc. v. City of Buffalo, No. 11-2184 (2d Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
African-American firefighters brought a Title VII discrimination (42 U.S.C. 2000e) claim, based on 1998 and 2002 promotional examinations for the position of fire lieutenant. The district court ruled in favor of the city, finding that Buffalo had demonstrated that the test was job related and consistent with business necessity, despite the disparate impact of the 1998 examination on African Americans, and that plaintiffs were barred from challenging the job relatedness and business necessity of similarly derived examinations. The Second Circuit affirmed: an employer can show that examinations having a disparate impact on a protected class are job related and supported by business necessity when the analysis that produced the test relied on data not specific to that employer. While employer-specific data may make it easier for an employer to carry its burden in Title VII analysis, such evidence is not required as a matter of law. In this case, an independent state agency determined, based on empirical, expert, and anecdotal evidence drawn from fire departments across New York and the nation, that the job of fire lieutenant, wherever performed, involves common tasks requiring essentially the same skills, knowledge, abilities, and personal characteristics; and developed a general test based on those findings.