Participants Needed for Office of Fire Marshal Study

IPMA-HR is currently seeking participants for a nationwide Office of Fire Marshal/Office of Fire Prevention study. This study is the first step in the development of a new Fire Marshal Test. The first part of the study involves surveying current members of the Office of Fire Prevention to learn about the important duties and demands of their job.

Examples of applicable positions include, but are not limited to: Fire Marshal, Fire/Arson Investigator, Premise Officer, Deputy Fire Marshal, Fire Prevention Officer, Fire Inspector, and Code Enforcement Officer.

If you or someone you know holds one of the above positions or a similar position, we would greatly value your input in developing our newest test series.

Participants will be entered into a raffle with a $500 prize! Participating agencies will also receive a 15% discount toward a future IPMA-HR assessment product purchase. Interested parties can use the following link to participate:

Questions can be emailed to our Research Associate, Julia Hind-Smith, at

New Test Development Project: Customer Service Representative

Customer ServiceIPMA-HR is currently in the process of creating a computer-based selection test for customer service positions throughout government agencies.  This would include any position that has front line interaction with the public (e.g., customer service representative, front desk positions, clerks, 311 center representative, etc.).

We anticipate that the computer-based test will be a job simulation that will include audio/video recordings of customer contacts with candidates indicating how they would handle the issues presented, using reference materials that would typically be available to them. The format of the test would be multiple-choice as well as data-entry.

This is where we need your help.  In order to create a useful test we need agencies to participate in the test development process.  Continue reading

Legal Update: Job Analysis Generalized

The Second Circuit upheld a fire department promotional test in M.O.C.H.A. Society v. City of Buffalo, Nos. 11-2184-cv, 10-2168-cv, 7/30/2012. The two docket numbers are there because of separate appeals for testing in 1998 and 2002. In both cases district court (same judge) granted summary judgment to the city on disparate treatment regarding the 1998 testing and on the overall testing procedure in 2002. The court ruled for the city on disparate impact after a bench trial regarding the 1998 test and foreclosed litigation on what was essentially the same situation in 2002. Here’s what makes the case interesting, straight from the opinion of the Court of Appeals:

Can an employer show that promotional examinations having a disparate impact on a protected class are job related and supported by business necessity when the job analysis that produced the test relied on data not specific to the employer at issue? We answer that question in the affirmative based on the record developed in these related cases. While employer-specific data may make it easier for an employer to carry his burden in the second step of Title VII analysis, such evidence is not required as a matter of law to support a factual finding of job relatedness and business necessity.

The appellate court noted that the trial judge, John T. Curtin, had longstanding experience with promotions in the Buffalo Fire Department, starting with a 1978 finding of a pattern-or-practice of discrimination against African Americans, Latinos, and women. Presumably Judge Curtin would be no pushover for a weak showing of validity. Continue reading