Press Release: 2023-03-17

Mass HRD Civil Service Promotional Exam Survey Needs Participation


Massachusetts HRD has indicated that there is a need for greater participation in the exam survey.  There has been limited participation up to now. The response goal is 300 participants for Captain, 350 participants for Lieutenant and 420 participants for Sergeant.  The survey was designed by the vendor and is necessary to defend any future test in response to Tatum et al v. Commonwealth of Mass HRD.

In large part, the decision contains a statistical analysis of how, according to the court, the promotional exam unfairly impacts minority communities. The case was a class action brought by individuals employed in many cities and towns and is part of litigation dating back to 2005. Several exam periods were examined (2005 – 2012). This ruling – the first phase of the trial – determined that the Commonwealth interfered with the right to be considered for promotion without regard to race or national origin, and that the Commonwealth was aware for many years that it was perpetuating a “discriminatory system” and failed to take steps to fix it.

The case was decided by a single superior court judge during a bench trial.  He found, among other things, that

  • the multiple-choice format was not related to a sergeant’s job duties.

  • the memorization format had a discriminatory impact on minorities.

  • the Education and Experience weighted component was not justified.

  • that better alternatives were available, such as fewer test questions, removal of memorization format, smaller reading lists, making the test “pass-fail”, banding scores, assessment centers, and interviews, etc.

Without further participation in the survey both the makeup exam scheduled for summer as well as the regular September exam cannot go forward.  Although the exam is lengthy, we strongly encourage you to participate in the survey to advance the process.