City Allowed to Hire More Than 300 Firefighters

New York City will be able to hire more than 300 firefighters who took an entrance exam deemed discriminatory by a federal judge last month. Judge Nicholas Garaufis says his new ruling is designed to balance the city's public safety needs with concerns over fair hiring practices by the Fire Department. Garaufis has given the city until Friday to accept one of his hiring plans.

Darius Charney, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, represents the Vulcan Society, the group that originally brought the discrimination suit against the city. He says at this point, it's a matter of choosing "the least imperfect solution."

"It's really a tough position for the court to be in, it's a tough position for the city to be in, but I think the city, unfortunately, put itself in that position by using a bad test," Charney said. He said he favors two proposals, known as "applicant flow," that would require the city to hire applicants proportional to the racial demographics of the entire applicant pool.

"They would not only ensure that African-American and Latino applicants are fairly represented in the next class, but they also would, I think, have the least disruption on current candidates who were expecting to get hired because they were at the top of the eligibility list," Charney said.

In a statement, Georgia Pestana, chief of New York City Law Department's Labor & Employment Division, said the city is "reviewing the Vulcan decision thoroughly."