Remedies Ordered in New York City Black Firefighter Case

January 25, 2010

New York City must revamp fire department hiring practices that discriminated against black applicants and possibly pay damages to thousands of victims, a judge ruled Thursday.

In a written decision in federal court in Brooklyn, U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis ordered the city to “develop a new testing procedure for the position of entry-level firefighter.” He also said that about 7,400 minority applicants who were victimized by discriminatory exams were eligible to file claims against the city.

The order follows a decision by the judge earlier this month that found the fire department had intentionally discriminated against blacks. The FDNY has about 350 black firefighters out of 11,500 total.

City officials have claimed there’s no evidence the department meant to keep out blacks. In a statement Thursday, city Law Department lawyer Georgia Pestana said the order was legally flawed.

“An initial examination suggests that today’s opinion does not fully address the complex constitutional issues presented, nor does it give proper weight to developments in this area of law,” he said.

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