Discriminatory Hiring in Philadelphia Police Department


Freeman v City of Philadelphia

Following the O’Neill consent decree, Philadelphia adopted a new written exam developed by a professional testing company to evaluate applicants. The new test, however, was little better than the previous exam used: it discriminated against African American applicants, and it was never demonstrated to accurately predict job performance.

On behalf of African American applicants, we filed suit against the City in 1990, and negotiations quickly led to the adoption of a consent decree reached later that year. The agreement required the hiring of African Americans in proportion to their representation in the applicant pool. Vigorously opposed to the agreement, the Fraternal Order of Police intervened in the case, and appealed. The order approving the agreement was upheld in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take the case.