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FDNY hiring freeze, entrance exam "discriminates against minorities"

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  • FDNY hiring freeze, entrance exam "discriminates against minorities"

    I can't seem to find an article that explains WHY the exam is supposedly discriminatory.

    NEW YORK – The mostly white Fire Department of New York is temporarily barred from hiring more than 300 rookie firefighters because it used an entry exam that discriminates against blacks and Hispanics, a judge ruled Wednesday.

    In a written decision in federal court in Brooklyn, U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis said the city had not come up with a good explanation for wanting to hire a new class of firefighters based on an "invalid" test.

    "Before the court can permit the city to use (the current exam) in any manner, the city must explain what has changed and why the need to appoint a few hundred rookie firefighters outweighs the need to avoid racial discrimination in municipal hiring," the judge wrote.

    The judge's order prohibits any new hiring until Oct. 1. The judge said he would soon schedule a hearing to consider "remedial measures" to meet the city's needs.

    A city lawyer, Georgia Pestana, warned in a statement Wednesday that the city will be forced to pay $2 million per month in overtime to make up for understaffing at the 11,000-member fire department.

    "We are extremely disappointed in today's decision and are evaluating all legal options," Pestana said.

    The ruling follows earlier setbacks for the city in the lengthy legal dispute with the federal government over discrimination claims. The judge previously found the FDNY had deliberately discriminated against minorities and ordered it to revamp its hiring practices.

    The U.S. Department of Justice sued the city in 2007, alleging the fire department was using exams that were littered with SAT-like questions that failed to fairly measure an applicant's ability to fight fires. The lawsuit was prompted by what critics describe as the department's woeful record on minority recruitment when compared with other big city departments.
    I'm sorry, but it seems to be a complaint that the exam is discriminating against minorities because... some of the... Actually, I can't even begin to understand how this exam is discriminatory. Are they arguing that the test has to be dumbed down? :P

  • #2
    Re: FDNY hiring freeze, entrance exam "discriminates against minorities"

    I did find this on the Huffington Post:

    I am an FDNY firefighter. There is no nepotism in the hiring practices of the FDNY. The hiring is done by the same city agency that handles all other city agencies. The reason that there are a small number of blacks on the job is a pure numbers game. The last test there were 16000 people that took the test. Of those 16000, around 144 where black. If you use the vulcans numbers and assume the the balance where white, only about 19% of people taking the test were actually hired. That means of those 144 black test takers only 23 or so were hired. The problem is that, for the most part, black residents in this city don't want the job. I work in a poor area of the Bronx. These people grow up around fires. They see us everyday. They see us coming out of fires covered in soot, sometimes bleeding, exhausted or vomiting from smoke inhalation. I can't tell you how many times I hear local residents say that we are crazy, and there is no way they would ever do our job. If the FDNY were full of white racist bigots do you think we would put ourselves in a life threatening situation to save the life of a poor black resident? Do you honestly believe that we would stop to question, if the person in that building was black or white? I can tell you that it makes no difference to us. (The comments at the bottom are actually more enlightening than the article itself.)


    • #3
      Re: FDNY hiring freeze, entrance exam "discriminates against minorities"

      Here is the actual FDNY exam for you to examine.


      • #4
        Re: FDNY hiring freeze, entrance exam "discriminates against minorities"

        From the first article:
        The judge previously found the FDNY had deliberately discriminated against minorities and ordered it to revamp its hiring practices.
        From 2009:
        New York City used tests that discriminated against black and Hispanic applicants to the Fire Department and had little relation to firefighting, a federal judge in Brooklyn ruled on Wednesday, dealing a blow to the administration of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

        “These examinations unfairly excluded hundreds of qualified people of color from the opportunity to serve as New York City firefighters,” wrote Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis of Federal District Court in Brooklyn, referring to two tests administered in 1999 and 2002.

        The ruling came in a lawsuit brought by the Justice Department in 2007 after a federal complaint by the Vulcan Society, an association of black firefighters, led to an investigation into the Fire Department’s hiring practices.

        The judge said he would determine later what remedies to require of the city. They could include payment of lost wages, retroactive seniority for some minority employees and affirmative action hiring. Noting that the court had ruled against the city in past decades in lawsuits brought over its hiring practices, Judge Garaufis wrote that even as the city’s black and Hispanic population had increased, “the overwhelmingly monochromatic composition of the F.D.N.Y. has stubbornly persisted.”

        Like firefighting forces in several other big cities, New York’s has remained disproportionately white, despite pressures and efforts to diversify. According to the city’s Law Department, at the end of May, roughly 3 percent of the 11,529 firefighters were black, and about 6 percent were Hispanic. Federal census estimates put each group at roughly 27 percent of the city’s population.

        “If there was any doubt that the city did have problems with its hiring process, it’s now been decided that in fact they do,” said Darius Charney of the Center for Constitutional Rights, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs. “Now it’s hard for them to argue that they in fact are not discriminating.”

        But city lawyers argue that the suit covers only tests no longer in use, and that their recent efforts to integrate the department are bearing fruit.

        “Through extensive and persistent outreach, the F.D.N.Y. increased the number of minorities who took and passed the firefighter exams,” Georgia Pestana, chief of the Law Department’s labor and employment division, said in a statement.

        Since the city began administering a new test in January 2007, the statement noted, racial minorities now comprise 38 percent of the candidates on the passing list; 33 percent of the top 4,000 on that list, who are most likely to be offered a job; and a third of the most recent graduating class of probationary firefighters.
        I found what appears to be the (or one of the) ruling for the original case:
        From page 4:
        On this record there can be no dispute that the determination to allow the eligibility lists to expire was made because those next in line for promotion were Caucasian and, in view of the ongoing discrimination actions in federal court, defendants wanted to avoid the further appointment of Caucasians. Thus, the governmental action being challenged was based on racial distinctions and should be subjected to the “ ‘most exacting judicial examination’ ” (Adarand Constructors, Inc., 515 US at 218).

        In contending that the strict scrutiny standard does not apply, defendants rely on Hayden v County of Nassau (180 F3d 42). We conclude that their reliance on Hayden is misplaced. In that case, the plaintiffs were challenging the police department’s act in designing race-neutral entrance examinations, and the Second Circuit concluded that “race-neutral efforts to address and rectify the racially disproportionate effects of an entrance examination do not discriminate against non-minorities” (id. at 54). In this case, defendants’ actions were not race-neutral. Rather, defendants’ determination to allow the lists to expire was made “ ‘because of’ ” the race of those individuals who were next in line for promotion (id. at 51).
        It isn't just the wording of the exam. These cases are never that simple.

        Just because everyone does something does not mean that it is right to do.


        • #5
          Re: FDNY hiring freeze, entrance exam "discriminates against minorities"

          I think that court ruling is from a different case. It seems to be saying that a list of Caucasian applicants was allowed to expire based upon the department not wanting to hire anymore Caucasian applicants.

          edit: yeah, here

          Similar situation, but in Buffalo's case the black defendants claims against the exam were dismissed.

          NYC's fire department seems to be locked in a battle of statistics, in which those outside the department are seeing a low proportion of minorities and claiming racism or some stupid **** like that.


          • #6
            Re: FDNY hiring freeze, entrance exam "discriminates against minorities"

            I thought it was simply referencing the other case, must have grabbed the wrong one. I'll try to find the actual decision again tomorrow.

            Just because everyone does something does not mean that it is right to do.


            • #7
              Re: FDNY hiring freeze, entrance exam "discriminates against minorities"

              It happened in my home town with the police force. A claim was made that the test were discriminatory so they changed the test. Didn't change the results though. Then they went to a program where if you take X number of white, you must take Y number of minorities. Eventually it got to the point where if you were white, your chances of getting picked were slim just because of the numbers. I don't know if it was right or wrong, but I do know it pissed a lot of people off and many good candidates for officer positions were turned away.


              • #8
                Disparate Outcomes

                Well, just lower the standards.
                It isn't like our lives depend on these people, I think the government should be free to tinker with social engineering and do whatever is necessary to make sure that every single government agency reflects the percentages of minorities in that area.
                I mean how are we going to make a colorblind world if we don't count up people of different colors and group them accordingly ?
                You have to be trusted by the people that you lie to,
                So that when they turn their backs on you,
                You'll get the chance to put the knife in.Pink Floyd "Dogs"




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