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Exam Favors White Firefighters, U.S. Claims

NORFOLK, Va. (CN) - The city of Portsmouth, Va., screens potential firefights with a written test that puts black applicants at a distinct disadvantage, the United States claims in a federal lawsuit. From 2004 to present, 85.9 percent of white applicants passed the test, while only 42.4 percent of blacks passed, the lawsuit claims.

The government says the National Firefighter Selection Test "is not job related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity."

The lawsuit adds: "Portsmouth has pursued and continues to pursue policies and practices that discriminate against African Americans and that deprive or tend to deprive African Americans of employment opportunities because of their race."

The United States seeks an order enjoining Portsmouth from using the purportedly biased test in screening applicants.

U.S. Deputy Chief Attorney Jodi Danis filed the suit in Federal Court.

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