The seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck two blows for the Windy City’s would-be Black firefighters recently. First, the court ruled that 111 individuals, who had been discriminated against in 1995 after they passed the Chicago Fire Department written exam, should now be hired immediately.
As part of the ruling, the Associated Press reports that the new hires will find "their pensions would be adjusted as if they'd been firefighters since 1995.”
Second, other Blacks that passed the exam and were not hired but were not part of the suit will receive damage payments from a $30 million pot.
The question, of course, is justice delayed, justice denied? How many of those men and women who were ready to be a firefighter nearly a generation ago are still ready today?
The blaze was lit when blacks that passed the firefighter exam with a score of 64 points were told that Chicago had an additional judging criteria. It was that applicants that had passed the exam would be accepted randomly, but only if they had scored at least 89 points.
As only 11 percent of the Black test takers reached that hurdle most of the firefighters hired were caucasian.
The drawn-out litigation took many twists and turns. In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Black firefighters did not wait too long to sue the city. Five years earlier, a federal judge had declared that the firefighter exam was discriminatory.
The current Chicago firefighter exam is a pass-fail.
Learn more about Black firefighters here.
(Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESSAP)