Former Manhattan D.A. Robert Morgenthau Appointed Special Master in Black Firefighters Case

Contact: press@ccrjustice.org

May 26, 2010, New York – Today, United States District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis appointed former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau the special master to oversee and expedite the development of a new and unbiased selection procedure for hiring New York City firefighters. The City lost the case, Vulcans v. City of New York, in January of this year when the court ruled the City had been intentionally discriminating in its hiring practices at the FDNY for decades. In a strongly worded order, Judge Garaufis today accused the City of dragging its feet in the current phase of the case where the parties are creating remedies:

For whatever reason – inertia, resource-allocation, or calculated strategy – the City has been dragging its feet throughout the remedial phase. The City is approaching the remedial phase in the posture of a pre-trial defendant who will not move expeditiously on any issue until forced to do so. The City does not appear to understand that it already lost this case, and that its obligation now is not to fight tooth and nail against the possibility of change, but to move with alacrity to cure its illegal practices. Put bluntly, the constitutional rights of thousands of its citizens are at stake. This court will not permit the City to filibuster the remedial process while it tries to get out from under this court’s liability rulings.

Said Vulcans counsel and Center for Constitutional Rights staff attorney Darius Charney, “We are pleased the court appointed a special master to finally move this process along. The City has fought every step of the way to keep from having to change its ways and make things right. We have the least diverse fire department of any major city in the country, and it is a disgrace. We look forward to creating lasting solutions to the problem.”

Richard Levy of Levy Ratner, P.C., co-counsel for the Class added: “The Vulcan Society, representing 3,000 black firefighter applicants who were denied a fair hiring process, are entitled to see that process brought into compliance with federal and local law.  Hopefully, with Mr. Morgenthau’s assistance, the Plaintiffs-Intervenors will see the day when the Fire Department fairly reflects the diversity of this city and all of us can be proud of that change.” 

The class action lawsuit, which proved the FDNY examination was in violation of civil rights laws, was filed on behalf of the Vulcan Society, the fraternal organization of Black firefighters in the FDNY by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and co-counsel from Levy Ratner, P.C. and Scott + Scott, LLP.

For more information on the case, see CCR's Vulcan Society case page.


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.

Last modified 

May 26, 2010