Connecticut Firefighters File Discrimination Complaints Over Promotional Tests

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) -- The fallout over two promotional tests in the New Haven fire department is taking the form of racial discrimination complaints.

Firefighter Frank Ricci has filed a complaint with the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities claiming that the city denied him promotion in the fire department because he is white.

The controversy stems from two fire department promotional tests that were administered last fall and later thrown out after the city raised concerns that too few minorities were in line for promotion.

Ricci is among about 20 mainly white firefighters who hired New Haven attorney Karen Lee Torre to challenge the city's actions.

The white firefighters maintain the city manipulated the civil service process in an effort to appease blacks in New Haven.

City officials have defended their actions and those of the civil service commission, saying that throwing out the tests will be upheld as legal and moral.

``The outcome of the civil service commission vote was not based on trying to favor members of any racial or ethnic group but to ensure that everybody was treated equally,'' Corporation Counsel Thomas Ude said Tuesday.

A group of black firefighters has retained attorney John Williams of New Haven, who said he would file his own CHRO complaints against the fire union for its position in the promotional tests dispute.

Last month, union members authorized the union to sue the city to over whether the city charter and civil service rules were violated when the tests were thrown out.

Some minority firefighters have accused the union of talking sides in the issue and said they didn't want their union dues to subsidize a lawsuit they oppose.