Rhode Island Settles With US on Prison-Guard Hiring

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (CN) – Settling claims that it discriminates against blacks and Latinos, Rhode Island agreed to give priority hire to 37 minorities who applied for entry-level correctional-officer positions.

The Justice Department brought the underlying challenge in 2014 over an employment test that screened out 18 eligible black applicants and 19 eligible Latino applicants.

In addition to offering these individuals priority hire, the settlement agreement filed Monday with a federal judge in Rhode Island includes a monetary relief fund of $450,000 and requires the state to use a hiring device compliant with Title VII going forward when hiring entry-level corrections officers.

In its complaint, the Justice Department accused the Rhode Island Department of Corrections of unnecessarily screening out black and Latino applicants via written and video examinations as part of its multistep selection process.

The examinations were said to have a disparate impact against these applicants without the requisite showing that the employment practice is job-related and consistent with business necessity.   

David Reese, Kunti Salazar and Emily Given with the employment-litigation section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division spearheaded the case.

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