The ongoing saga of the FDNY employment discrimination case took another turn yesterday, when Federal District Court Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis appointed Robert M. Morgenthau as a special master to address the FDNY’s hiring practices.
In remarkably blunt terms, Judge Garaufis explained why he appointed Morgenthau, who recently retired after 35 years as the district attorney of Manhattan: “The city does not appear to understand that it already lost this case, and that its obligation now is not to fight tooth and nail against the possibility of change, but to move with alacrity to cure its illegal practices. Put bluntly, the constitutional rights of thousands of its citizens are at stake.”
In January, Judge Garaufis concluded that the city had intentionally discriminated by continuing to use an exam that it knew had a disparate impact on black applicants. Since that time, the judge’s patience with city lawyers has been strained. For example, he threatened to sanction the city after lawyers suddenly produced thousands of documents related to the case more than two years late. In appointing the special master, Garaufis hopes to provide “steady, vigilant, immediate and comprehensive oversight” to effect the needed changes.