A federal judge in New York has ruled that the FDNY could owe up to $128 million in back-pay and compensation to black and Latino firefighters who took two entrance exams deemed discriminatory.
The ruling affects applicants who took the 1999 or 2002 exams, and were either hired late, or never hired at all. 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.
CCR 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, 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.