Judge Orders FDNY Hiring Quota

A Brooklyn federal judge wants to impose a temporary hiring quota on the FDNY to make up for what he has called an "intentional" pattern of discrimination against black and Hispanic firefighter applicants.

Under the order handed down yesterday, Judge Nicholas Garaufis said he wants the city to hire two black and one Hispanic candidate for every five applicants who pass the test until there are 293 minorities added to the ranks of the FDNY.

The judge based his figure on the number of blacks and Hispanics who the government has estimated would have been hired if the department's 1999 and 2002 examinations were not discriminatory, as Garaufis ruled last week.

The city has until Feb. 5 to respond to the court order.

The quota was just one of the corrective actions that Garaufis laid out in a 57-page ruling in response to a bias suit filed against the city in May 2007 by the feds, the Vulcan Society, which represents black firefighters, and the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Also under the judge's ruling, approximately 7,400 minority applicants who sat for the two racially skewed exams may be eligible for monetary damages.

And minority applicants who were rejected under the old exam and are accepted to the department under the new test will also be eligible for retroactive seniority benefits, including back pay, but not rank.

"They're just getting what they should have gotten seven years ago," said Darius Charney, a lawyer for the plaintiffs.

In his decision, Garaufis wrote: "There has been one persistent stain on the Fire Department's record. When it comes to being a New York firefighter, blacks and other minorities face entry barriers that other applicants do not."

City lawyer Georgia Pestana said it's reviewing its options.

"[New York] will always place in the forefront not only the need to obey the rule of law, but the need to ensure that only qualified individuals become New York City firefighters."

Garaufis will appoint a monitor to assure the city's compliance.

Both the FDNY and the Uniform Firefighters Association declined to comment.

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