For years, New Yorkers and individuals around the country have been aware of the ongoing lawsuit that alleged racial discrimination against one of the most notable fire departments in the nation, the FDNY. However, in early March, Mayor Bill de Blasio and his administration have finally brought the lawsuit to an end.
The civil-rights discrimination case originated in 2007 and has been led by the group The Vulcan Society through its seven-year span. The group urged for diversity in the fire department and shined a spotlight on the fact that in a city where more than half of its residents identify with a racial minority group, black firefighters have never made up more than 4% of the department’s total.
As a result of the settlement, the city has agreed to pay $98 million to resolve the allegations that the FDNY engaged in a pattern or practice of employment discrimination against African-American and Hispanic applicants for the entry-level firefighter position by using two discriminatory written tests in 1999 and 2002.
The settlement includes funds for back pay and allocates more than $6 million to cover lost medical payments, fringe benefits and interest for those who took the test in 1999 and 2002. Interestingly however, the agreement does not require New York City to acknowledge any intentional discrimination by the FDNY.
Mayor de Blasio said in a statement, “The brave men and women of the FDNY work tirelessly to keep us safe from harm’s way, and our administration is committed to ensuring every New Yorker who seeks to take on this heroic role has a fair opportunity to join the ranks. This administration is fully committed to promoting diversity and equal access in every sector across our five boroughs, and this settlement will move New York City one step closer to this goal.”
Although the settlement has been reached, the payment method has not been determined and the settlement as a whole will be subject to a fairness hearing where it must be approved by the district court.
If you or a loved one have been a victim of employment discrimination, it is crucial that you contact an experienced employment attorney. A skilled attorney will afford you the representation you deserve and ensure your legal rights are protected.