New York: Citing racial discrimination in New York's fire department, a federal judge has slammed it for having a recruitment process that intentionally differentiates blacks and Hispanics.
"It was a part of a pattern, practice and policy of intentional discrimination against black applicants that has deep historical antecedents and uniquely disabling effects," wrote Judge Nicholas G Garaufis in his decision.
"This decision represents a major victory for all minority citizens of New York City who have been denied employment because of their race, colour or national origin," said Richard Levy, lead counsel in the case.
"The City has kept blinders tightly in place to avoid recognising and dealing with a problem of discrimination that has been shockingly clear to all citizens of New York," he said adding, the Fire Department has been a virtually all White club since its inception many decades ago and no one in City government has seen fit to address the issue.
Last year, Judge Garaufis ruled that the qualifying written exam that is administered excludes black applicants to maintain a predominantly white force. "This pattern of under-representation has remained essentially unchanged since at least the 1960s," he said. The case was filed by the Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR) on behalf of the Vulcan Society that represents black firefighters in New York.
"We're glad to see the justice system verify what we've known for the longest time, that the Fire Department is hostile to hiring blacks. We hope this means 145 years of racism in the New York City Fire Dept will now come to an end," said Paul Washington, former president of the Vulcan Society.
According to the CCR website, as of October 2007, black and Hispanic firefighters comprised only 3.4 and 6.7 percent of the FDNY, respectively but the combined black and Hispanic population of New York City comprises over half its total population.
"It is the city's view that there is simply no evidence that the city ever intended to discriminate against black applicants," the official, Georgia Pestana, a city lawyer, said.
First Published: Thursday, January 14, 2010, 13:46