Ernst v. City of Chicago

Ernst and four other women, all experienced paramedics from public and private providers of emergency medical services, sought employment as paramedics with the Chicago Fire Department. All five women were denied jobs because they failed Chicago’s physical-skills entrance exam. The test had first been implemented in 2000 and had a disparate impact on women. The five filed a Title VII gender-discrimination lawsuit against the city, arguing that Chicago had a discriminatory motive against women and that that improper statistical methods were used to establish the skills test. Both arguments were unsuccessful. The Seventh Circuit reversed and remanded. On the disparate impact claims, the jury should have been instructed on the plaintiffs’ burden of proving that Chicago was motivated by anti-female bias, when it created the exam that; instead, jurors were instructed on a different burden, which failed to address Chicago’s motive for creating the test. The physical-skills study was neither reliable nor validated under federal law; the skills that Chicago paramedics learn on the job are different than what was tested. Even if they were the same, the physical-skills entrance exam is significantly more difficult than the actual job workers perform. View "Ernst v. City of Chicago" on Justia Law