United States of America and Vulcan Society, Inc. v. City of New York
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United States, et al. v City of New York is a federal class action lawsuit originating from Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charges filed by CCR on behalf of the Vulcan Society and three individual African-American firefighter applicants, charging the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) with racially discriminatory hiring practices.
On March 18, 2014 the Vulcan Society, CCR and Levy Ratner announced a settlement with the city on the Intentional Discrimination and Monetary Relief portion of this case.
United States v. City of New York is a class action lawsuit that originates from two Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charges filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) on behalf of the Vulcan Society, the fraternal organization of Black firefighters, in August 2002, and on behalf of three Black firefighter applicants, Marcus Haywood, Candido Nunez and Roger Gregg, in February 2005. The lawsuit charges the FDNY with discriminatory hiring practices that violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the United States and New York State constitutions, and New York State Human Rights Law.
The EEOC attempted an informal resolution of the dispute between the parties. However, conciliation attempts failed when the City would not come to the table, and the EEOC referred the charge to the DOJ, a standard procedure when an EEOC charge is brought against a public employer. The DOJ then filed a lawsuit against the City which the Vulcan Society and CCR have since become a party of.
When the first EEOC charge was filed in 2002, New York City’s fire department was 2.9 percent Black. The numbers have not changed at all since then, despite the fact that the City has had five years to try to remedy the problem. As of March 2007, the FDNY included 335 Black firefighters out of a total of approximately 11,500 firefighters, still barely more than 2.9 percent. New York City as a whole, by comparison, is 27 percent Black.
New York City also has the least diverse fire department of any major city in America – only 7.4 percent Black and Latino. Fifty-seven percent of Los Angeles’ firefighters, 51 percent of Philadelphia’s, and 40 percent of Boston’s are people of color. The fire departments are 30 percent Black in Baltimore and 23 percent Black in Chicago.
The central issue in the case is whether the skills measured by the FDNY’s written exam have any relationship to skills necessary to be a good firefighter – the EEOC and DOJ have concluded that they do not. CCR contends that there is no reason the City should be using this test to hire firefighters and that continuing to use it is against the law.
The DOJ and CCR are seeking relief for Black and Latino candidates who were not hired or whose
hiring was delayed because of the use of the written tests given in 1999 and 2002, scores from which were used to rank candidates for hiring. Because this test, which has no valid relationship to job skills, has a disparate impact on Blacks and Latinos, its use by the FDNY is illegal under Title VII. Remedies will be decided by the court, but CCR believes they will include forcing the FDNY to hire affected Black and Latino candidates and give them back pay and retroactive seniority. https://ccrjustice.org