New Relief for Excluded Minority NY Firefighters


     (CN) – Minority applicants to the New York Fire Department who failed discriminatory entry tests will get priority hiring and retroactive seniority, in addition to the previous damages award of $128 million, a federal judge ruled.



     Last year, U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis scorched the department as “a stubborn bastion of white male privilege,” kept intact by six mayors, particularly Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
     In March, he ruled that New York City could owe up to $128 million to would-be firefighters who say they were excluded by the discriminatory entry tests.
     The city claimed that Garaufis overstepped his authority in a June 2012 appeal to the 2nd Circuit.
     Meanwhile, Garaufis set a Sept. 28 hearing date to determine compensation for excluded black and Latino firefighters.
     “The purpose of the fairness hearing is to provide all individuals who may be affected by the terms of this relief order an opportunity to present objections prior to the implementation of individual relief,” Garaufis wrote in an order last week.
     New York City will send notices about the hearing to any interested parties, who can submit written objections about the terms of the relief to the judge.
     Under those terms, any black or Latino applicant who was not hired or whose hiring was delayed because of the tests can seek compensation.
     At the time of the tests, they must have been between 17 1/2 to 29 years old, conversational in English, and lacking in felony convictions or dishonorable discharges.
     Those who meet these criteria will be eligible for back pay, priority hiring and retroactive seniority.
     Up to 293 minority applicants who were not hired will be eligible for “priority hiring,” in which they must pass newly approved written and physical exams.
     At least two out of five entry-level firefighters whom the city hires must be black applicants from this list, the judge ordered.
     “The city shall continue to hire at this 2:5 ratio until it has hired one hundred eighty-six (186) black claimants from the approved list of priority hire claimants or until the group of black claimants on the approved list has been exhausted, whichever occurs first,” the order states. “Similarly, after the court approves the list of priority hire claimants, one (I) of every five (5) individuals that the city hires for the entry-level firefighter position shall be Hispanic claimants from the approved list of priority hire claimants. The city shall continue to hire at this 1:5 ratio until it has hired one hundred seven (107) Hispanic claimants from the approved list of priority hire claimants or until the group of Hispanic claimants on the approved list has been exhausted, whichever occurs first.”
     Claimants will also be eligible for retroactive seniority.
     “The court will award retroactive seniority relief to eligible claimants who were victims of the city’s discrimination,” the judge’s latest order states. “‘Retroactive seniority’ refers to seniority credit in the entry-level firefighter position as of a claimant’s presumptive hire date. Retroactive seniority is comprised of retroactive ‘benefits seniority’ and retroactive ‘competitive seniority.’ Retroactive benefits seniority includes seniority for purposes of the amount of salary or other pay, pension benefits, and future accrual of leave, including vacation, personal, and sick leave, as well as any other purposes for which seniority is used in determining the amount of or eligibility for employee benefits.”

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