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Judge Prepares Ruling on What Officials Must Do To Address Racial Discrimination in New York City Firefighter Hiring

New York City doesn’t have “a good track record” of addressing racial bias in recruiting firefighters, a federal judge said recently as he determines how far he should go in helping to addressing the situation, Thomson Reuters reports.

Discrimination in New York takes on many forms and affects many people. Employers can unfairly treat prospective employees, by choosing not to hire them based on unlawful reasons; it can also happen to people who have already hired and who have years of experience.
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A worker can face unlawful discrimination and unfairness based on their age, if they’re over 40, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, military status and other characteristics. And that’s wrong.

According to the Thomson Reuters article, a federal judge has found that officials in charge of hiring in New York City have a bad record of hiring, having shown poor judgement in the hiring of firefighters.

After several trials that he decided, a federal judge in Brooklyn must now decide what the city must do to fix the problem and he must decide how far the courts must go to come up with a remedy.

The Vulcan Society, a group of black firefighters, wants a mandate that is both broad in nature and enforceable that would force city officials to address what they call a “glaring imbalance in the racial composition of the fire department.” Minorities, including blacks and Hispanics, make up a large portion combined of the city’s population — about 25 and 27 percent, respectively, yet they only make up about 10 percent of the city’s firefighters.

The group wants the judge to mandate the city recruit 35 percent of its firefighter applicants from black residents citywide. The group also wants the city to hire 293 Hispanic and black job seekers who have already took the hiring exam. That is an estimate that equals the number of minorities who would have been hired if they received scores as high as white applicants on past exams.

The plaintiffs are also seeking clarification on why some candidates are rejected and more open communication about the hiring process as well as an independent monitor to address racial bias allegations at the department.

Attorneys for the city claim that the city should be able to continue increasing the minority population among its ranks on its own, without court intervention.

This is shaping up to be quite a battle between the employees who are seeking a fairer process and the city, which doesn’t want to be controlled by a court ruling. It’s likely that whatever the decision, the losing side will appeal and the issue won’t be settled for some time.

But it takes these lengthy court battles to sometimes get an employer to do the right thing and not discriminate against its employees or its prospective employees. And, likewise, corporations must use the court system to fend off litigation that is baseless and only seeks to hurt the employer’s reputation.

The Law Offices of Ira S. Newman provides discrimination law legal counseling in New York City, Long Island, Great Neck and throughout the area. Call 516-487-7375 or contact us through the website.

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Additional Resources:

Judge reprimands city over racial bias in firefighting hiring, by Jessica Dye, Thomson Reuters