By Jake Pearson
NEW YORK: A black firefighters’ group that had sued New York City, alleging discrimination, said Tuesday that minority fire department applicants will be eligible to receive back pay totaling $98 million.
The settlement of the 7-year-old case was announced by lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights, who represented the group, the Vulcan Society. They say the figure includes more than $6 million to cover lost medical payments.
The city says the figure includes back pay, fringe benefits and interest to the test takers. It wasn’t immediately clear how many people would be affected by the settlement.
Among other things, the Vulcan Society’s lawyers said, the FDNY will create an executive position for diversity.
The settlement pre-empts a trial that had been scheduled to start this month.
The FDNY, mayor’s office and city Law Department didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
In May 2013, an appeals court ruled that the FDNY must undergo court supervision for five years to ensure it doesn’t discriminate against blacks and Hispanics in its hiring practices.
In the fall of 2011, federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis appointed an independent monitor to oversee the recruitment, testing and hiring of new firefighters for at least 10 years.
Garaufis took the unusual step after concluding the city had failed to ensure that enough blacks and minorities were hired. Litigants said less than 10 percent of the 11,200 uniformed firefighters in the city were black or Hispanic, even though more than half of the city’s 8 million residents identified with a racial minority group.
The FDNY launched a recruitment campaign in 2012 aimed at attracting more female and minority applicants.
In June 2013, five female Emergency Medical Service officers announced a $1 million settlement of a 7-year-old gender discrimination lawsuit against New York City, breaking what their attorney called the department’s “female firewall.” EMS is part of the Fire Department.