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Groups split on court decision over hiring

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WASHINGTON (JTA) — Two Jewish groups split on their reactions to a Supreme Court decision involving discrimination in hiring.

The Anti-Defamation League welcomed the 5-4 decision in Ricci v. DeStefano, in which the court ruled that white firefighters in New Haven, Conn. were unfairly denied promotions after city officials tossed out the results of a test on which minorities generally did not score well.

The National Council of Jewish Women said the decision made it more difficult for women and minorities to compete in the workplace.

Noting that the court had adopted arguments it made in a friend-of-the-court brief it submitted, the ADL said in a statement that the decision "is a welcome reaffirmation that the government must have a strong basis in evidence to support any race-based decision."

"This decision properly forecloses many instances of governmental race-based decision making, particularly those where government unilaterally seeks to correct what it sees as racial injustice for one group while unfairly burdening another," said the statement, which was signed by national chair Glen Lewy and national director Abraham Foxman.

On the other hand, NCJW President Nancy Ratzan said in a statement the court had "crafted a new and more burdensome test for employers to use when they seek to evaluate whether their own policies and practices cause discrimination in the workplace."

Ratzan noted that NCJW had signed a brief in the case "that argued the importance of retaining the historic interpretation of employment law upheld in 1971. The principle established then requires that employment practices and policies be nondiscriminatory in their impact as well as their intent."

She added, “It is critical that the federal agencies involved in enforcing anti-discrimination laws spell out what employers can and must do going forward to prevent discrimination.”

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