Earlier this year, a case out of New Haven caused quite a stir at the Second Circuit when it addressed (or, as some people believe, failed to address) a reverse discrimination case. 

Now, word comes that the firefighters who lost the case are seeking to have the U.S. Supreme Court decide the issue by asking the nation’s highest court to review the matter. Doug Malan, from the The Connecticut Law Tribune reports:

A group of 20 New Haven firefighters are pushing to have the nation’s highest court determine if the city discriminated against them when it denied promotions despite high test scores. For some of the men, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on whether to hear their case will determine whether the firefighters remain in what they believe to be dead-end jobs due to their skin color.

After a divided Second Circuit this summer turned down the firefighters’ appeal, national law firms and advocacy groups have lined up to assist the New Haven parties on both sides.

The plaintiff firefighters in Ricci v. DeStefano allege that they are victims of a system that was changed in midstream to favor black firefighters over white and Hispanic ones and that they have been blocked from attaining fire lieutenant and captaincy ranks. In 2004, the city of New Haven told its Civil Service Commission to stop administering two written exams that were used to determine the most qualified candidates for promotion because too few minority candidates were advancing. City officials feared a lawsuit would be filed by minorities under the federal Civil Rights Act.

Although the case was originally set for a conference on September 29, 2008, that date has been extended.  A check of the Supreme Court’s docket does not yet give an indication on when the court will review the matter and determine whether to take the case.  But given the other matters under consideration, it is not unreasonable to expect a ruling on whether to accept the case by the end of the year.

The case is notable for employers in Connecticut because there aren’t a lot of reverse discrimination cases out there. If the Supreme Court decides to hear the case, it is likely that there will be some new guidance about what is, and is not, appropriate in such cases.