Atlanta Jury Finds Problem with Investigation of Promotional Exam

Yesterday, a Fulton County jury found that Atlanta Fire Rescue failed to fully investigate allegations of cheating on a 2010 promotional exam. The suit was brought by three Atlanta firefighters claiming that certain black firefighters were coached and given access to exam materials prior to the test.

The three plaintiffs, two white and one black firefighters, filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of all of the firefighters who took the lieutenant’s exam in April, 2010. They alleged that one study group of five firefighters were provided with answers, and that the city’s Human Resources department performed a superficial investigation that simply covered-up the cheating.

The five accused firefighters all scored within the top 8 on the exam. The city’s attorney criticized the ruling and the plaintiffs’ case  claiming it “basically centered on the idea that you couldn’t be an African-American in 2010 and do well on a test.”

Promotions based on the test results have been on hold, and it is unclear at this point whether a retest will be required. The parties are due back in court of March 8, 2012.

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 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) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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