FDNY Discrimination Lawsuit Settled

By Julissa Catalan


More than half of New York City’s population is made up of nonwhites and/or Latinos, yet Blacks and Latinos have never made up more than 4 percent of the Fire Department, City of New York (FDNY).

After a seven-year legal battle, the City of New York has reached a nearly $100 million settlement with close to 1,500 Black and Latino fire-department recruits who had accused the city and the FDNY of intentional racial discrimination.

The lawsuit, filed by the Vulcan Society, a fraternal organization of underrepresented firefighters, and the U.S. Department of Justice, claimed the FDNY hiring processes in 1999 and 2002 had an institutionalized bias in place to shut out underrepresented firefighters from receiving job placement.

“This is a great day in the City of New York,” said Captain Paul Washington, a former president of the Vulcan Society. “We hope that this is the beginning of a new day for the New York City Fire Department.”

The $98 million settlement covers back pay and benefits, including lost medical payments, fringe benefits and interest. Applicants who took the civil-service exam but did not get jobs and firefighters whose placement was delayed because of discrimination will be assigned to firehouses in their residing neighborhoods. Under the settlement terms, the FDNY will also implement new recruitment policies that will increase the number of Black and Latino firefighters.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office said a position will be created within the fire department for an executive staff member with the title Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, reporting directly to the Commissioner. The FDNY will also work closely with the Department of Education and neighboring colleges to recruit underrepresented applicants as part of the reform.

In an official statement, de Blasio said, “The brave men and women of the FDNY work tirelessly to keep us safe from harm’s wayand our administration is committed to ensuring every New Yorker who seeks to take on this heroic role has a fair opportunity to join the ranks.

“This administration is fully committed to promoting diversity and equal access in every sector across our five boroughs, and this settlement will move New York City one step closer to this goal.”

The settlement comes after a federal appeals court ordered the FDNY to be supervised for five years to see if there is still discrimination taking place during the recruitment process. In 2011, federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis found “copious evidence” of intentional discrimination toward Blacks and Latinos in the hiring process and appointed an independent monitor to oversee the testing and hiring process for 10 years.

When terrorists flew airplanes into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, killing 343 FDNY firefighters (most of whom were white), whites represented 95 percent of the department. Currently, about 90 percent of FDNY firefighters are white, but more than 60 percent of the department’s probationary firefighters are Black or Hispanic, according to the department.

The doubling in the percentage of Black and Latino firefighters has been spurred in large part by the litigation.

Latest News

Parents protest over Critical Race Theory education in schools

Florida Legislature Issues Initial Approval of Bill That Would Prohibit White ‘Discomfort’ During Black History Education

Even though the Florida Department of Education has already banned the classroom teaching of Critical Race Theory, lawmakers in the state are attempting to go even further, passing a law to protect whites’ “feelings” during education dealing with Black history.  Amy Simonson of CNN reported that a bill backed by…

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

Mitch McConnell Under Fire for Claiming Black Americans Are Not ‘Americans’

As the battle to protect voting rights continues in the nation’s capital — sadly with little success — veteran politician and minority leader of the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell, has come under fire for a statement he made that implied Black Americans were not “full” Americans. Bruce Schreiner of The…

Toyota Earns the Most R&D Patents Among Automakers in IPO Rankings for 8th Consecutive Year

Originally published at pressroom.toyota.com. Toyota ranked No. 7 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   The United States Patent and Trademark Office awarded Toyota more patents than any other automaker in 2021, according to an annual ranking by the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO). Toyota’s engineers…

Wells Fargo Announces New Initiative To Help Customers Avoid Overdraft Fees and Meet Short-Term Cash Needs

Originally published at newsroom.wf.com. Wells Fargo ranked No. 25 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   Wells Fargo announced new efforts to limit overdraft-related fees and give customers more flexible options to meet their personal financial needs. These offerings, which include earlier access to direct deposits,…