ILNews

No qualified immunity for city in racially motivated promotions

Back to TopE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the denial of the motion of qualified immunity filed by the City of Indianapolis and several officials in a suit filed by three white police officers who claim they were passed over for promotions because of their race.

Lieutenants Joseph Finch, David Hensley, and Peter Mungovan sued the city, the law enforcement Merit Board, and seven city officials alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act because three African-American officers were promoted to captain over them, despite the white officers ranking higher on the then-Indianapolis Police Department’s promotion eligibility list. The city maintained that they were required to promote the African-American officers because of a 1978 decree entered into by IPD and the Department of Justice to rectify an alleged pattern of discriminatory practices adversely affecting African-American officers.

Magistrate Judge Debra McVicker Lynch denied the motion, which the 7th Circuit judges affirmed.

In Joseph Finch, David E. Hensley, and Peter W. Mungovan v. Bart Peterson, individually and in his official capacity, et al. No. 09-2676, the appellate court, just like Magistrate Judge McVicker Lynch, found the 1978 consent decree that the city claimed compelled them to promote the African-American officers actually advocated against the use of race for promotions. Section X, “Job Assignments,” is clear that race should have no place in the promotions process. The promotions section, Section IX, contains language mandating that promotions shall be based on relevant standards and criteria applied without considering race or color.

“More specifically, Section IX(D) mandates that any promotional screening tool ‘may not be used more than one (1) time if it has an adverse effect on blacks and it is not shown to be properly validated in accordance with applicable federal guidelines,’” wrote Judge Diane Sykes. “If the Police Department were permitted to adjust the results of any promotional test, ex post, in order to advantage African-American officers, Subsection IX(D) would be of little use because the results of any offending test could simply be manipulated after the fact in order to produce the desired outcome.”

A footnote states that the three officers have since been retroactively promoted based on a separate consent decree entered into between the police department and the DOJ after the federal department brought a suit against the police department alleging it violated Title VII by making promotions on the basis of race and sex.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  2. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  3. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  4. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

  5. Can I get this form on line,if not where can I obtain one. I am eligible.

ADVERTISEMENT