2012-07-13 / Top Stories

60,000 Failed FDNY Applicants Called To Court

By Howard Schwach

Many of those minority members who were applicants for the New York City Fire Department and were ultimately refused a job will get a chance on September 28 to tell it to the judge.

Sources say that more than 60,000 potential claimants in a lawsuit charging the city agency with racism and discrimination will soon receive notices to stand in federal court in Brooklyn before the bench of Judge Nicholas Garaufis and tell him why they deserve a piece of the pie that judge has said would go to those who were discriminated against – a pie that may well amount to $128 million.

The claimants getting the letters include black and Hispanic firefighter candidates who failed the written exam and never got the job, as well as some who eventually were hired by the city agency.

Those who want to get a chance to tell Garaufis their story will have to submit written statements, the judge’s order says.

But, they will have to show up in Brooklyn Federal Court at the appointed time, officials say.

In May, advertisements ran in several of the city’s daily newspapers seeking “Blacks and Hispanics who applied for New York City firefighter jobs between 1999 and 2006 [who] may be eligible for money, a firefighter job, and seniority to remedy hiring discrimination.”

According to the advertisement, placed by the Department of Justice, the court has ordered the city “to pay up to $128 million in back pay damages to black and Hispanic victims of the city’s discrimination.”

The ad said that the federal Department of Justice was collecting information from all black and Hispanic applicants who took one of two written exams between 1999 and 2006 in order to decide who is eligible for the money and other awards.

The forms had to be at the court by April 18.

Those getting letters this month will be those who submitted claims by that deadline, officials said.

Garaufis ruled earlier this year that the city’s tab to pay minorities affected by discrimination in the city’s firefighter entrance exams could be more than $128 million.

In that decision, Garaufis said hearings will be held to determine how much each individual claimant will receive, which could lower the total amount the city will have to pay.

The September hearing fulfills that mandate.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg once again blasted Garaufis and his ruling.

“The bottom line is that we don’t agree with his decision at all and it’s only the first step in the process,” Bloomberg said. “You can rest assured that we will appeal [the judge’s ruling].”

Garaufis fired back, saying that he will move forward with the awards even if the city challenges his ruling.

Garaufis ruled previously that the Fire Department of New York discriminated against minorities in its entrance exam, saying black and Hispanic applicants had disproportionately failed the written examinations and those who passed were placed disproportionately lower down the hiring lists than whites.

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