Monday, September 20, 2010

When reality is racist

NYC stops hiring firefighters amid long-running dispute over alleged entry-exam discrimination

NEW YORK (AP) — City officials on Friday said the Fire Department of New York won't hire any firefighters until a new entry exam is created to replace one a federal judge said discriminated against minorities, which is expected to take at least a year.

A federal judge had ordered the city to choose one of five temporary methods for selecting applicants who had already passed the rejected exam as a way of adding to the department in the meantime. But the city's law department said in a letter to the court that they wouldn't select one because they all involved some sort of race-based quota.

"The hiring quotas ... are bad public policy, and we believe not justified by the law," said Corporation Counsel head Michael Cardozo.

It was the latest setback in a lengthy legal dispute with the federal government over discrimination claims at the mostly white fire department. U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis ruled in August that the exam was unfair to black and Hispanic applicants after the Justice Department sued on their behalf in 2007.


The judge said black and Hispanic applicants had disproportionately failed the written examinations and those who passed were placed disproportionately lower down the hiring lists than whites.


Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on his radio program Friday morning that accusing the fire department of racism was unfair, and he spent years working with the commissioner to recruit diverse applicants.

"The bottom line is we just could never get ... we were making progress ... but we never got as diverse a group applying," he said. "And if you had a big diverse group applying, you would have diversity in the results coming out the other end.

What if the minority candidates all just sucked, meaning they didn't have the ability to pass the exam?