Black Firefighters Ask Court to Rule in DOJ Lawsuit Charging FDNY with Discriminatory Hiring Practices

New York, NY – Today, Black firefighters ask the court to rule in their favor in a lawsuit charging the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) with discriminatory hiring practices. The case, filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2007, is due to go to trial next month if the court denies today’s request for summary judgment.

“We hope today’s hearing will force the City of New York and the FDNY to change their racially discriminatory hiring practices,” said CCR attorney Darius Charney. “In one of the most diverse cities in the world, the FDNY cannot be allowed to maintain a virtually whites-only status quo.”

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and co-counsel from Levy Ratner, P.C. and Scott & Scott, LLP represent the Vulcan Society, the fraternal organization of Black firefighters, in this putative class action lawsuit charging the FDNY with racially discriminatory hiring that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

CCR and its co-counsel will ask United States District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis to grant summary judgment in favor of the Vulcan Society in light of the overwhelming evidence supporting their claims, thus eliminating the need for a trial. The hearing will take place at the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn.

“Firefighters are here to do their job – to serve and protect New Yorkers – regardless of race,” said John Coombs, president of the Vulcan Society. “It’s time for the FDNY to stop setting up smoke and mirrors roadblocks that have nothing to do with qualification in order to bar people of color.”

CCR, Levy Ratner, and Scott & Scott formally filed to intervene on behalf of the Vulcan Society in the Department of Justice's lawsuit against the City of New York for discriminatory hiring practices in July 2007. The lawsuit grew out of two Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filings by CCR on behalf of the Vulcan Society in 2002 and 2005. The intervention allowed the Vulcan Society to join the lawsuit as plaintiffs.

The combined Black and Hispanic populations of New York City comprise over half its total population. Yet, as of October 2007, Black and Hispanic firefighters comprised only 3.4 and 6.7 percent of the FDNY, respectively. New York City has the least diverse fire department of any major city in America: 57 percent of Los Angeles, 51 percent of Philadelphia and 40 percent of Boston firefighters are people of color.

For more information on this case, visit the United States v. City of New York case page.

The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at


Last modified 

December 18, 2009