In Case That Bears Echoes of Ricci V. New Haven, Minority Firefighters in NYC Claim Skills Exams Discriminate

On July 22, a federal judge ruled in a prominent race discrimination case that the New York City Fire Department’s old written examinations were biased against minority applicants. Judge Nicolas Garaufis agreed with the Department of Justice, which argued that the exams given by the City from 1999 through 2007 were unfairly biased towards white candidates. The lawsuit bears striking similarities to the reverse discrimination lawsuit filed by New Haven firefighter Frank Ricci against the city of New Haven, Connecticut which captured national media attention due to the fact that one of the appellate judges to rule on the matter, Sonia Sotomayor, was selected as President Obama’s first U.S. Supreme Court nominee.

Although the NYFD changed its employment practices in 2007 to recruit more minorities — indeed, the City spent over $2 million on a recruitment campaign to swell the numbers of minorities in the Fire Department — representatives of a Black Firefighters Association, the New York Vulcan Society, appeared less than impressed with the attempted fixing of racial discrimination within the ranks. According to a CNN report, the President of the Vulcan Society said of the Fire Department’s recent increases in diversity: “If you have abysmal numbers and you increase them slightly, don’t applaud yourself like you’ve done a great job.”

In the 21st century, cases of racial discrimination and retaliation on the job can lead to incredible social, moral, and legal complexities. That’s why it’s so important for potential claimants to retain the services of top-tier attorneys, like the representatives here at Joseph & Kirschenbaum. To find out more about the firm’s extensive and highly successful record at bringing racial discrimination and retaliation cases, head to or phone (212) 688-5640 for immediate assistance.

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