Posted on January 30, 2006

Appellate Court Rules Against Shreveport in Race Discrimination Lawsuit

Francis McCabe, Shreveport Times (La.), Jan. 26, 2006

A federal appellate court changed its stance and ruled Wednesday in favor of plaintiffs in a discrimination lawsuit against the city of Shreveport and its Fire Department, overturning a lower court’s decision to dismiss the case.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals remanded the heart of the five-year-old case to U.S. District Court in Shreveport.

The petition was brought against the city in 2000 by Todd Dean, who was not hired by the department and felt its hiring practices discriminated against him because he is white. Dean earned a higher test score than some blacks hired then, his lawsuit alleges. Other men joined the lawsuit soon after.

The 5th Circuit’s ruling “should compel the city not only to cease race-based hiring procedures in all departments, but also to re-evaluate the continued validity of all city programs that incorporate race as a criteria for participation,” said local attorney Pamela R. Jones, who represented Dean, Shawn Sanders and Jason Matthews.

Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran said he was unaware of the decision and withheld comment until he reviews and discusses it with the city attorney.

The department ended race-based hiring 11 months before a federal magistrate dismissed Dean’s case in December 2004 hoping to avoid more lawsuits, officials said. Now the department relies on a pass/fail civil service exam, educational background and technical training of each candidate and psychological and physical ability exams.