November 13, 2017, New York – Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) released the statement below in response to the New York City Fire Department’s (FDNY) press release touting the more diverse makeup of the group taking the most recent test to be a firefighter. Vulcan Society v. City of New York, CCR’s class-action lawsuit with the fraternal organization of Black New York City firefighters, challenged intentional discrimination and racially discriminatory hiring practices within the FDNY.
While we are pleased there has been progress in the FDNY diversity recruitment efforts as compared to prior exams, we still have a long way to go to have a truly diverse firefighter workforce in New York City. Even if we assume that the FDNY were to actually hire Black firefighters at the rate at which they took this hiring exam, a little under 25 percent—which is a big assumption given what we know about the discriminatory nature of the post-exam candidate screening process—and to continue to hire Black firefighters at this rate for future exams, it would still take more than a decade for the demographics of the FDNY’s firefighter force to match the demographics of the City population as a whole. The FDNY must do far more to ensure that its workforce truly reflects the diversity of New York City.
In 2011, after a historic decision finding New York City liable under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for disparate impact racial discrimination in its Fire Department hiring, the court mandated the creation of a new exam, imposed broad-ranging injunctive relief, and appointed a court monitor to oversee recruitment, hiring, and equal employment opportunity. In spring of 2014, the parties entered into a settlement on the Title VII and constitutional claims of intentional discrimination, which imposed new diversity recruitment goals for the FDNY, required the creation of educational opportunities for young people of color interested in a firefighting career, and established the position of FDNY Chief Diversity Officer to ensure equal opportunity within the department.
Learn more about the lawsuit on CCR’s case page.
Levy Ratner, P.C., Scott + Scott LLP are co-counsel in the case.
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 ccrjustice.org.