How long is too long? When it comes to the duration of consent decrees intended to address discriminatory practices in fire departments, that is a question that many firefighters ask. In the case of Leesville, Louisiana it took 32 years for the city and the US Department of Justice to finally put an end to a discrimination suit.
The action dates back to December 9, 1980 when the DOJ filed suit alleging that the police and fire department’s’ hiring practices violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The city and the DOJ entered into a consent decree intended to address concerns over the hiring of African Americans and females.
Last November the DOJ announced that it was lifting its demand for a consent decree noting that the hiring practices in both departments had improved significantly. Last Wednesday, the city announced that the case had been finally settled, ending the 32 years of court oversight.
Leesville’s mayor, Robert Rose, commended the work of both departments and the leadership of Police Chief Greg Hill and Fire Chief Dewaine Lawson, in bringing the matter to a close.