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Lomack v. City of Newark Case Study

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Updated: May 2nd, 2020

Facts Of The Case

The City Council of Newark hired a certified accountant called Samuel Rosenfarb to investigate the racial composition of the fire companies. Rosenfarb found that the highest percentage of workers in the fire companies were white. He also estimated that about thirty of the companies comprised of only white employees. Regarding promotions, Rosenfarb recorded that the white population was given more chances than the blacks and the Hispanics. There had been no actions taken until Sharpe James was elected Mayor of Newark in New Jersey and issued a mandate in his inaugural meeting.

The mandate stated that all single-raced fire companies would be eliminated in order to improve morale. However, the mayor’s order was rejected. The fire chief, Wallace, gave an alternative solution to achieve diversity. He suggested involuntary transfers to strike a balance between races. Firefighters were denied transfer requests and many more assigned to different fire departments, based on race.

Procedural history: A total of 34 workers sued the Newark City Council for forced transfers and denied transfer requests. They were also joined by two workers’ unions, the NFU and the NFOU. The District Court dismissed this claim. However, the plaintiffs appealed.

Key Issues

The plaintiffs claimed that the transfers on the basis of race were unconstitutional. They argued that the transfers went against the policies outlined in the Equal Officers Clause, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the New Jersey Civil Rights Act.

The City claimed that they had three interests that forced them to implement these policies. They stated that they implemented the policies in order to eliminate racial segregation in the fire department. The City believed that the best way to rid racial discrimination was by transferring firefighters involuntarily to create a balance. There was also the need to safeguard the performance of the fire firms by integrating the workers to improve diversity. The City cited that implementing the policies fell within the confines of the 1980 Consent Decree.

Legal Holding

The court (Lomack v. City of Newark 252) held that the City could apply racial classifications if it was involved in the previous discrimination that led to the imbalance. The City neither proved nor suggested that it had any involvement with the prior discrimination.

The court referred to the case of Grutter v. Bollinger (251). The Supreme Court held that if there was an educational benefit in having a diverse student body, then it was sufficient to substantiate the racial inclusion of minority students who applied to join law school. The Court of Appeal agreed that the integration of workers was as important as the integration of students. The court agreed that integration was necessary for enhanced relations in the workplace.

The court found that the 1980 Consent Decree did not apply to this case of the firefighters’ transfers. The decree deals with specific issues when it addresses the policy in question.


It was evident that the imbalance was because the management of the fire department allowed the workers to choose where to work. People tend to choose to work in places close to their homes. Therefore, the City had neither participated directly or indirectly in the racial imbalance. The court stated that there was a difference between the law school and the fire companies. The purpose of the law school was to offer education, while that of the fire department is to control and fight fires. Therefore, the holding in the case of Grutter v. Bollinger (251) was not applicable. The court also found that the Decree did not require the City to get involved.


The court, therefore, reversed the District Court’s decision and suspended further proceedings in line with the opinion brought out.

Works Cited

Grutter v. Bollinger, 288 F.3d 732 6th Cir. 2002. Print.

Lomack v. City of Newark, 463 F.3d 303 3d Cir. 2006. Print.

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