The Hammer Drops in FDNY Case

Ok, so maybe it was not a hammer that dropped, it was a gavel, but the metaphor is clearly there: something big happened in the Big Apple on January 21, 2010.

Just one week after Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis determined FDNY had intentionally discriminated against minorities in the 1999 and 2002 hiring processes, he ordered the remedy… and it will no doubt be a bitter pill for many to swallow: for every five firefighters the department hires, two must be black and one must be Hispanic. The remedy will last at least until 293 identified minority applicants are hired, and those applicants will be entitled to retroactive seniority.

In addition, the court is ordering the department to develop a new non-discriminatory hiring process, and compensate roughly 7,400 minority applicants who took the 1999 and 2002 tests in question.  

The judge declined to order a formal hiring quota that had been sought by the Vulcan Society, a fraternal organization of black firefighters who joined the suit along with the United States and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR).

By various accounts, FDNY is between 91-93% white male and the long-standing disparity in pass rates between white and minority applicants have resulted in two determinations of disparate impact  discrimination (in 1972 and again in July, 2009), and a precedent setting finding of disparate treatment (intentional) discrimination by Judge Garaufis on January 13, 2010.

An appeal would appear to be imminent.

For more on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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