Statistical Lessons of Ricci v. De Stefano

Mon Jul 06 16:24:38 EDT 2009
By Jonathan Falk

The Supreme Court's decision in Ricci v. De Stefano, which arose from a lawsuit brought against the city of New Haven, Connecticut by 18 firefighters alleging that the city discriminated against them with regard to promotions, has already garnered a great deal of attention from lawyers, political pundits, and Supreme Court watchers. However, statistical issues received very little attention in the decision from either side. In this NERA brief, Vice President Jonathan Falk argues that there are important statistical currents in Ricci -- as there are in any disparate impact case -- that are worthy of further attention. Mr. Falk focuses on three issues: what statisticians really have to say about disparate impact; how statistical analysis might have played out in Ricci; and going forward, what role statisticians have to play in the new standard (i.e., strong basis in evidence).

This paper has been published in the October 2009 issue of The Employment Law Strategist.