Another Gender Discrimination Suit For Chicago Fire

Twenty African-American female applicants to the Chicago Fire Department who are already plaintiffs in two other discrimination suits against the city, have filed yet a third suit against the city, this time challenging a physical abilities test that was used to hire African-American firefighters as part of a settlement of the well known race discrimination suit, Lewis v. City of Chicago.

The twenty women filed the class action lawsuit on behalf of “similarly situated” women applicants for CFD.  Each had passed the written exam for the department, but failed the physical abilities test. The 17 page complaint was filed last Friday, October 26, 2012, in US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

The women are all plaintiffs in the Lewis case, as well as a separate gender discrimination case filed last year, Vasich v. City of Chicago.

The suit alleges that the city used a physical abilities test to hire 111 African American firefighters that discriminated against women. It is the same test that is the focus of the Vasich suit. The Chicago Sun Times quoted lead attorney Marni Willenson  as complaining “It’s a test that doesn’t really test for the abilities you need to become a firefighter and screens out women needlessly and unjustifiably.”  

The new case is titled Godfrey v. City of Chicago. Here is a copy of the complaint. Godfrey v City of Chicago

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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