APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
Before: NYGAARD, LEWIS and McKEE, Circuit Judges
Preston Hampton and Carl Bowles appeal from the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of all defendants on all claims that plaintiffs brought against the Borough of Tinton Falls New Jersey, the Tinton Falls Police Department and numerous governing officials of that borough. Hampton, who is Black, is a Detective Sergeant with the Tinton Falls Police Department; Bowles, who is also Black, is a former Borough employee and a named plaintiff by virtue of his status as a resident in the borough. Plaintiffs allege illegal discrimination in connection with the borough's decision not to promote Hampton from sergeant to lieutenant. We hold that the district court properly granted summary judgment on plaintiff's "disparate-impact" claim, but that the district court erred in granting summary judgment on plaintiffs' other claims. *fn1 Accordingly, we will affirm in part, and reverse in part, and remand the case for further proceedings.
In October of 1994, the Tinton Falls Police Department announced two openings for promotion to the rank of lieutenant. Hampton was one of four candidates to apply for the positions, and was the only Black candidate. The three other candidates were Sergeant Peterson and Sergeant Turning, both of whom are White, and Sergeant Gonzalez, who is Latino. In order to be promoted, a candidate had to first pass a multiple choice exam, then compete before a Promotional Review Board ("PRB"), and an Oral Review Board ("ORB"). Although the actual score of the "objective" multiple choice exam was not factored into the process, an applicant could not be promoted without receiving a passing grade on that exam. The Review Board evaluations were subjective.
The multiple choice exam was administered in January of 1995 by Iowa Testing Service. All four of the candidates passed the test *fn2 and were then reviewed by the PRB and ORB. Initially, the PRB was comprised of Borough Administrator and Public Safety Director Anthony Muscillo, Major Melvin McKeller, Borough Prosecutor Pat Menna and Borough Council member Gabe Tornillo. McKeller, who is Black, subsequently announced his retirement and declined to serve on the Promotional Review Board, *fn3 and Captain (now Major) LaDean White was appointed to replace McKeller. App. at 703-04. Captain White was the immediate supervisor for candidates Turning, Gonzalez and Peterson. Sergeant Hampton was part of the Detectives Bureau and reported to Captain Robert Jantausch. After White replaced McKellar, neither the PRB nor the ORB had any minority members. App. at 704.
The PRB met in February of 1995 to review the candidates. The Board evaluated the applicants' records and performance using ten factors, each of which was worth ten percent of a candidate's evaluation. The categories for evaluation included:
(3) decision making ability
(8) education and self-improvement
(9) length and merit of ...