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Hamid Amini v. City of Minneapolis

July 5, 2011

HAMID AMINI, APPELLANT,
v.
CITY OF MINNEAPOLIS, A MUNICIPALITY, APPELLEE.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wollman, Circuit Judge.

Submitted: March 15, 2011

Before WOLLMAN, MURPHY, and GRUENDER, Circuit Judges.

After the City of Minneapolis did not hire Hamid Amini for a position with the Minneapolis Police Department, Amini, who was born in Afghanistan, filed suit, alleging that the City discriminated against him based on his race, color, and national origin, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. The district court*fn1 granted summary judgment in favor of the City. We affirm.

I. Background

A. The Hiring Process

The police department announces officer vacancies on the City's website. To be considered, candidates must complete an application for employment. The candidates are also encouraged to complete a voluntary confidential information form, which asks about their race and gender, among other things. The form is not shared with the hiring decision-maker.

The human resources department reviews and scores the applications. If the candidates meet the minimum qualifications, they earn seventy points. Candidates earn additional points for other criteria, like work experience, and the scores are used to determine whether the candidates will be invited to complete fitness testing. If they pass the fitness test, the candidates may then complete an oral examination. The City describes the oral examination as a structured interview to evaluate qualities such as knowledge, judgment, decision-making ability, integrity, human relations, customer service, and oral communication skills. The results from the fitness test and the oral examination are weighted and added together, with veteran's preference points added to the scores of qualified candidates. Finally, the overall scores are ranked and the candidates are placed on the "eligible list." Depending on the police department's needs, a certain number of candidates listed on the eligible list proceed to the background investigation phase. Minnesota law requires that background investigations be conducted on peace officer candidates. Minn. Stat. § 626.87.

The background investigation phase lasts approximately twelve weeks. The candidates complete an extensive questionnaire, and a background investigator is randomly assigned to each candidate. The investigator reviews the questionnaire, runs database checks, and requests information from the candidate's references, educational institutions, and former employers. The investigator might also visit the candidate's home or employer. Thereafter, the investigator interviews the candidate about his background and prepares a summary of the investigation. The summary does not include the candidate's name, age, gender, race, ethnicity, or national origin. Instead, candidates are assigned an identification number. The summaries are provided to the hiring board, also known as the roundtable panel, usually about a week or so before the panel convenes to discuss the candidates.

The panel is composed of members of the human resources department and high ranking members of the police department's administration. During the roundtable meeting, the panel discusses the candidates by their identification numbers. The panel relies on the background summaries to determine which candidates would be a "good fit" for the police department. Each candidate is given a recommendation of select, non-select, or select with reservations, and the recommendation is recorded on a tally sheet. The tally sheet, along with background summaries that show the candidate's name and corresponding identification number, are forwarded to the police chief or the designated final decision-maker.

After the police department determines how many candidates it intends to hire, human resources certifies the number of intended hires plus two*fn2 to the administration. From that list, the police chief or the chief's designee makes conditional job offers to the number of candidates they intend to hire. The candidate must then pass physical and mental examinations before the department extends a final job offer.

B. Amini's Interview Process

In May 2006, the Minneapolis police department posted job openings for police officers, and Amini submitted an application. His application indicated that he graduated from high school in Kabul, Afghanistan, and that he had lived in New Delhi, India.

Amini's application was awarded eighty-six points out of one hundred for his training and experience. Amini was invited to complete the fitness test and oral exam, which he did. Amini's overall score was 83.98, and he ranked sixty-third out of the eighty-three candidates on the eligible list. The top forty-nine candidates proceeded to the background phase. Given his rank, Amini was not among them, but he and the other candidates remained on the eligible ...


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