New York City Fire Department Lawsuit Settled

We have reported on US and Vulcan Society, Inc. v. City of New York in previous articles.

New York City Fire Department LogoOn March 18, 2014 New York City settled this long-running lawsuit in which the Vulcan Society claimed that the city fire department intentionally discriminated against minority applicants. The case was scheduled to go to trial March 31, 2014. The original lawsuit was filed in 2007 by the US Department of Justice and the Vulcan Society, a fraternal organization of black firefighters. The suit claimed that the fire department’s hiring exams and practices excluded minorities from firefighter jobs. In 2011, a federal judge agreed and ordered the creation of a new exam and reforms in hiring practices, including the recruitment of some applicants who failed exams given in 1999 or 2002. However a federal appeals judge ruled in May that the district court went too far in forcing the department to revamp its hiring process. It did leave in place many of the remedies ordered by the lower court, including the appointment of a court monitor. While the city did not dispute the lower court ruling that the exam was discriminatory, it challenged the notion that the discrimination was intentional.

Under the agreement, which must be approved by a federal judge, the city will pay $98 million in back pay, including $6 million in medical benefits, to African American and Hispanic applicants who took the exam to become firefighters in 1999 and 2002. The fire department will create a Chief of Diversity and Inclusion who will report to the Fire Commissioner as well as a Diversity Advocate who will monitor hiring practices and cadet training for discrimination. The fire department will also work with the city’s Department of Education and local colleges to recruit minority applicants.

Reprinted with permission from the Personnel Testing Council of Metropolitan Washington

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