Connecticut v. Teal

PETITIONER: Connecticut
RESPONDENT: Teal
LOCATION: Former land of Valley Forge General Hospital

DOCKET NO.: 80-2147
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 457 US 440 (1982)
ARGUED: Mar 29, 1982
DECIDED: Jun 21, 1982

ADVOCATES:
Bernard F. McGovern, Jr. - on behalf of the Petitioners
Thomas W. Bucci - on behalf of the Respondents

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Connecticut v. Teal

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 29, 1982 in Connecticut v. Teal

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear arguments next in Connecticut against Teal.

Mr. McGovern, you may proceed when you are ready.

Bernard F. McGovern, Jr.:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court, this is a Title VII disparate impact case dealing with an employee selection process which as a whole had no adverse impact upon the Respondent's protected group, but which contained a component that did.

Now, although eight Respondents are listed in this writ, it concerns really only four, and those are the four black Respondents.

All the Respondents in 1978 were welfare eligibility technicians who sought promotion to the rank of welfare eligibility supervisor.

This meant competition and a selection process, the first step of which was the taking of a written examination.

Now, the examination was designed and developed over the preceding year expressly for the selection process by specialists from the Department of Administrative Services Personnel Division working with supervisory personnel in the Department of Income Maintenance, in which agency the Respondents worked.

The exam was given in December, 1978, to 329 employees of the Department of Income Maintenance, and of that 329, 314 were racially identified, and of that 314, 48 were black and 259 were white, and of the 48 black, 26 passed the examination, for a pass rate of 54.17 percent.

206 white employees passed the examination, for a pass rate of 79.5 percent.

The black pass rate was 68 percent of the white pass rate.

Respondents learned that they had failed this examination on or about March 15th, 1979, and as a result they could not continue on in the selection process.

Now, the process continued as follows.

The Personnel Division took all scores of all passing candidates and listed them on a promotion list by order of rank.

Each rank corresponded to a particular score on the examination.

Thus, all persons with the highest score were in the first rank.

All persons with the second highest score were in the second rank.

General McGovern, I suppose that that test, however, was an effective barrier to the further progress of those who failed it.

Bernard F. McGovern, Jr.:

That is correct, Mr. Justice.

Now, at this point, the... for each vacancy... excuse me... in the... which an appointing authority, here the Commissioner of Income Maintenance, had to fill, he was entitled to have certified to him five ranks.

This is called the rule of five.

For additional vacancy which he had at this particular time, he was entitled to an additional rank.

He could select anywhere from among the ranks which were certified to him.

Therefore, if there were five vacancies, he could choose any five people from within the nine ranks which had been certified to him.

Here we have a somewhat unusual situation, and that is by the time which the promotions were finally made, there were 46 vacancies but only 25 ranks of passing candidates.

Therefore, the appointing authority had the option of selecting from among all candidates who passed the examination, all 25 ranks.

As I say, this is unusual.

The appointing authority, in making his selections, considered not only rank on the list but recommendation of superiors and job evaluations.

However, before these appointments could be made, Respondents sought an injunction in the district court for the District of Connecticut, and as it pertains to this matter here, the black Respondents claimed that their elimination from the process violated Title VII in that there was a disparate impact upon black candidates at the examination stage by virtue of an examination which they allege to be non-job related.

At this point in time there was a chambers conference, shortly after the injunction had been sought.

The Petitioners agreed not to appoint any persons off the list until the case could be heard on the merits.