City Rejects 'Race-Based' FDNY Hiring Proposals

By Nicole Bode on September 17, 2010 1:30pm 

The city will have to continue paying overtime to cover FDNY staffing after rejecting a judge's hiring proposals.
The city will have to continue paying overtime to cover FDNY staffing after rejecting a judge's hiring proposals.
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DNAinfo/David Torres

By Nicole Bode

DNAinfo Senior Editor

MANHATTAN — The city has rejected all five of the proposals for hiring new firefighters suggested by a federal judge who ruled the FDNY discriminated against black and Hispanic applicants — calling the alternative hiring practices "illegal and unwise."

"Every one of the five proposals from which the Court is allowing the City to select involve some form of race-based quota," the city’s Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo wrote in a letter to federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis on Friday, the deadline for the city to make a decision.

"The city respectfully believes that using race-based quotas to select firefighters is both illegal and unwise public policy. For these reasons, the city declines to select any one of the five proposals offered by the Court."

Under judge Garaufis’ Aug. 4 ruling, the city has been banned from hiring any new firefighters who passed the 2007 exam until Oct. 1.

Garaufis found that the FDNY’s 2007 entrance exam discriminated against black and Hispanic test-takers, a decision that came on the heels of similar findings about two earlier FDNY exams. The long-running legal case is the result of a lawsuit filed against the FDNY on behalf of the Vulcan society, a black firefighters group.

The city has vehemently disagreed with the ruling and said in their letter Friday that their law department "intends to appeal it."

The city will reportedly have to spend approximately $2 million in overtime to cover the staffing shortage. Cardozo said Friday that the continued hiring freeze "will not affect public safety," and added that the city is working to draw up a new exam "as expeditiously as possible."

"The citizens of this city are entitled to firefighters who are hired based on their ability rather than on their race or ethnicity," Cardozo said in a statement Friday.

"It is unfortunate that we were required to make this decision, but given the options permitted, we had no other choice."

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