Settlement Announced in FDNY Discrimination Suit

In breaking news, a settlement has been announced in the contentious seven-year-old race discrimination suit involving the FDNY. The suit was brought by the United States Department of Justice at the request of the Vulcan Society and numerous African American applicants claiming that the FDNY’s hiring practices were discriminatory.

While additional details will no doubt be forthcoming in the next few days, ABC News is reporting that the settlement involves the city making $98 million available to compensate minority applicants who were wrongly passed over. The FDNY has also agreed to create an executive level position to address diversity.

The settlement brings to a close a case that prompted numerous headlines as the trial judge, Nicholas Garaufis, squared off against the Bloomberg administration. Garaufis concluded the city had committed disparate impact discrimination (unintentional discrimination based upon statistical differences in selection rates between whites and minorities) as well as disparate treatment discrimination (intentional race based discrimination) based on the city’s failure to address the racial imbalance in FDNY over the course of several decades.

Back in 2011 Garaufis appointed an independent monitor to oversee the recruitment, testing and hiring of new firefighters. He was reversed by the 2nd Circuit on many of his key rulings and the case was set to go to trial before a new judge on March 31, 2014.

Additional details about the settlement will be provided as they become available.

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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