Do New York Firefighters Need Supervision?

Lawyers argued that the fire department staff needs to be monitored when making hiring decisions to avoid discrimination, such as in years past.

Posted: 08/03/2011 12:37 PM EDT

 

(Photo: Lucas Jackson/Landov)

Do adults need supervision when working together? That’s what is being debated in a court of law.

 

In 2009, the United States Justice Department ruled that the Fire Department of New York, the largest of its kind in the nation, discriminated against minorities. On Monday it was argued that the department must now be monitored as it works to change its hiring practices.

 

Two years ago Judge Nicholas Garaufis ruled that the city’s firefighter entrance exam had SAT-like questions that did not adequately test firefighting skills and discriminated against minorities such as Blacks and Latinos. On Monday, when deciding whether or not a court-appointed monitor is necessary to oversee the decisions, he heard testimonies that Black candidates with prior criminal records were discriminated against in hiring decisions when whites were not. For example, a former police officer was acquitted for the 1999 death of Amadou Diallo, a Guinean immigrant, who was killed in a fury of police bullets, but he was hired by the department when Blacks with police records were not taken into consideration.

 

The fire department’s director of candidate investigation testified that race was not a factor when hiring firefighters, but ultimately the decision whether an overseer is necessary will be decided by Judge Garaufis.

 

Currently no new firefighters are being hired while the test is being written and approved.

 

The new test is scheduled to be given in January 2012.

 

 

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