Bloomberg Says City Will Appeal Judge’s Ruling that FDNY Could Owe $128M in Back-Pay

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Members of the FDNY Members of the FDNY (Al_HikesAZ/flickr)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city will appeal a federal judge’s ruling, finding that the FDNY could owe up to $128 million in back-pay to minority applicants who either weren’t hired, or were hired late off two entrance exams deemed discriminatory.

Bloomberg made his comments on his weekly WOR-AM radio show Friday, a day after Judge Nicholas Garaufis issued his decision.

The mayor said he didn’t agree with the decision, and defended the FDNY’s recruiting efforts under the past two fire commissioners.

“There are more people that have taken the test that want to join the fire department, more diverse,” he said. “We have to have a test that tests the skills that are required to be a firefighter, and not look at anything else.”

The mayor also said the test should be based on a combination of physical strength and intelligence.

“If I’m there, and a firefighter’s coming in to save my life, I want to have the smartest person we can find,” he said.

Garaufis’ ruling affects black and Latino applicants who took the 1999 or 2002 exams. Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, is urging those applicants to come forward to see if they're eligible for any benefits.

"The judgment in the claims is going to take into account what they would have been earning at the time, whether they received compensation since then, and the result would be offset by what they made," he said.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is representing the Vulcan Society, a group of black firefighters that brought the discrimination suit against the FDNY. Warren said the judge has also ordered the city to hire 186 black applicants, and 107 Latino applicants.

Paul Washington, a captain in the FDNY and the Vulcan's past president, said he's pleased with the latest ruling.

"The only shame is that all of this could have been avoided, if the mayor had listened to us 10 years ago, when we sat down with him, and told him of the discrimination that was going on in the fire department," he said.

The FDNY is offering its first entrance exam in several years this month, after revamping the test.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Michael Cardozo, the city's corporation counsel, called the latest court ruling "erroneous," and "the first step in a lengthy process."

"When all the proceedings have been completed, the damages, if any, that the city will have to pay will be far less than the $128 million," he said.

The city is also trying to have Garaufis removed from the case.


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Comments [6]

Dennis McConville from STATEN ISLAND NY

How did Mr.Washington attain the rank of Captain? I would imagine he studied very hard in order to pass both the lieutenant and captain tests.Isn't he an African American? If anything the test is education biased and not discriminatory toward any particular race.Capt. Washington would better help minority applicants by educating them as to what it takes to become a firefighter,not award them something they did not earn".A man should be judged by the content of his character not the color of his skin"

Aug. 05 2012 09:19 PM

I was on the test that got thrown out. I was #1257, i passed every test. The physical, medical, back round, physc. all 2 times, I was the next class supposed to be getting hired, I am white. I took the same test everyone else did, do not have a family member in the FDNY and scored 99.98. This minority claim is the worst example of the race card in history. I am white, why didnt I get in if i passed everything? Why am i not included in the Appeal? Because i am white? ........ at this point anyone who was white and earned this job is the one's actually being discriminated against.

May. 27 2012 12:35 AM

There is nothing discriminatory about the testing, you don't pass/score high enough, you don't get hired, simple. Black, white whatever.

Apr. 10 2012 10:56 AM

Will political correctness never end. The a very hard test.
This is well known. Almost everyone prepares by taking special training.
You just can't go in and take the test cold.I am white and consider myself
fairly intelligent but I don't think i could score high enough considering
the amount of candidates.Shame on the Vulcan Society for the lawsuit.
It is quite obvious that blacks,whites,spanish,and women pass the test.
The real smart ones study and become officers in the F.D.N.Y.,all based on merrit not gender or race or judges. It has got to be a great feeling to
have earned it. I wonder where the firefighters unions are in all of this.

Mar. 09 2012 04:28 PM
Andrea Phillips from Chapel Hill, NC

What a relief to see that equal employment opportunity and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are not obsolete. Congratulations to the Vulcan Society, Black and Latino firefighters and firefighter applicants for your persistent efforts to ensure nondiscrmination in the application process in FDNY.

Mar. 09 2012 09:34 AM
NotSoFast from UWS

But, wait...... I thought this was "post-racial" America!

Mar. 08 2012 08:17 PM

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