Judge Says NYC Fire Dept. Discriminates

Because of discrimination within New York City’s Fire Department, Blacks and Hispanics account for only one in 10 percent of the its workforce, despite the fact that most residents are minorities, a judge ruled Wednesday.

These numbers stand in stark contrast to some of the nation's other large cities, such as Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Houston, where minority firefighters have been represented in significantly higher percentages," U.S. District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis wrote, agreeing with U.S. Department of Justice and a fraternal order of Black firefighters.

Justice and the Black firefighters group found that disparities among those taking firefighter recruitment exams in 1999 and 2002 were so wide that no trial was needed to rule against the city.

The city used the exams to appoint more than 5,300 entry-level firefighters between 1999 and 2007, “cheating at least 1,000 minority firefighters of chances to join a force of roughly 11,000 at the Fire Department of New York,” The Associated Press reported.

Some 3,100 exam candidates were Black and 4,200 were Hispanic; still, the city appointed only 184 Black firefighters and 461 Hispanic firefighters, he said.

“Black and Hispanic applicants had disproportionately failed the written examinations and those who passed were placed disproportionately lower down the hiring lists than Whites.” He said he must now consider remedies.

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