Byline: GREG WILDIE
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that white firefighters in New Haven were subjected to race discrimination when the city threw out a promotional examination on which they had done well and black firefighters poorly.
The court ruled that "The city rejected the test results solely because the higher scoring candidates were white," and that "Fear of litigation alone cannot justify an employer's reliance on race to the detriment of individuals who passed the examinations and qualified for promotions."*
Will this change the racial equality/discrimination laws in America and consequently much of the western word? (We all follow America like sheep in most areas so the two questions are much the same) The answer appears to be a qualified maybe.
The decision certainly favours common sense and justice. The plaintiffs in the case were white and Hispanic workers who had studied hard for and passed the examinations at the expense of giving up second jobs, their families sacrificing basic needs and, in some cases, their physical health suffering.
They were not being promoted because they were white.
On the other hand, black candidates who had not put in the effort or simply weren't up to the task had failed the examination.
Scrapping the results would have amounted to promoting the failures not because they met the criteria but because they were black.
This, the court ruled, would have amounted to a defacto quota scheme.
It is easy to dismiss New Haven as an example of affirmative action gone mad but the danger highlighted here is all too real.
How often do government adverts stress that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are encouraged to apply for jobs?
Does such emphasis mean they will be given race based preference?
Will this be only in the event that they are otherwise equal to candidates on the other criteria or is race a criterion in itself?
If it is, why cannot we just say so?
It makes enormous sense for an indigenous health or social worker to be, to put it bluntly, indigenous in every sense.
To suggest otherwise or that it is wrong to use race as a criterion in these circumstances is to perpetrate what an old aboriginal mate of mine used to call "white fellas thinking they know how to be black better than we black fellas".
The risk that we over do both affirmative action and its reverse non-discriminatory practice is very real.
While the colour, creed or gender of your lawyer makes no difference, an Islamic women's health worker should be Islamic and female.
The ruling demonstrates that the theory of discrimination has to cut both ways.
Any discrimination in favour of someone on the basis of race, creed or gender amounts to discrimination against those who do not fit the affirmative action criteria. …