NAACP v. North Hudson Regional Fire & Rescue, 2009 WL 396130 (D.N.J., February 18, 2009) – The U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey has certified a class of approximately 850 prospective firefighters in a class action lawsuit seeking to eliminate a residency requirement for job applicants. The North Hudson Regional Fire & Rescue (NHRFR) serves five communities in North Hudson County. Applicants must reside in one of the five member municipalities the department serves at the time he or she takes the firefighter examination. The NAACP alleges the residency requirement discriminates against African-American candidates who reside in the southern part of Hudson County and in neighboring Essex and Union counties.

The certified class includes all African Americans who were living in Essex, Union or southern Hudson County at the time they passed the exam. The court also enjoined the NHRFR from hiring candidates from its present hiring list until it obtains an expanded list including residents of southern Hudson, Essex and Union counties. In doing so, the court found the plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits because NHRFR cannot demonstrate that its residency requirement is a business necessity, as it does not apply to NHRFR’s other employees.

Note: This article was published in the March 2009 issue of the New Jersey eAuthority.


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