New York, August 25, 2011 – Today federal district court Judge Nicholas Garaufis heard closing arguments in Vulcan Society, Inc. v. City of New York, ending a trial that began August 1st to determine what remedies the FDNY must implement to cure its 40-year history of racial discrimination against Black firefighter candidates. The proceeding arose out of a successful lawsuit brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the law firms of Levy Ratner and Scott and Scott, on behalf of the Vulcan Society, the fraternal society of black firefighters, in which the Judge found that the FDNY has engaged in a pattern and practice of intentional race discrimination in violation of civil rights laws.
In closing, counsel representing the Vulcans urged the Judge to hire an expert to devise a plan for effective, targeted recruiting in minority neighborhoods; to increase transparency and fairness in the highly subjective candidate character review process that occurs after candidates pass the exam; and to appoint an independent special monitor to address workplace discrimination and retaliation in the future. The Court noted that in the 1970s a federal court had found that the FDNY had engaged in similar race discrimination and ordered changes to the hiring process, but once judicial oversight ended, the FDNY returned to its old ways.
Judge Garaufis also reasserted his concerns about city officials’ public statements and testimony revealing the City’s reluctance to cooperate and take meaningful remedial action despite another judicial finding of discrimination, decades later.
Additional closing arguments for non-back pay compensatory damages are resuming this afternoon.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.