This week, a federal judge issued a landmark ruling on an employment discrimination case and castigated New York City on its hiring practices within its fire department. U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis issued an opinion criticizing city officials who continue to shut out black and Hispanic candidates for jobs and promotions. The judge plans on monitoring the fire department's process of recruitment, hiring, promotions and more.
Judge Garaufis was most critical of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's failure to act on the fire department's hiring problems, noting that he had been alerted by numerous reports including: a report from the city's Equal Employment Practices Commission; a letter from then-Public Advocate Mark Green, who specifically warned Bloomberg and the fire commissioner of "segregation"; and numerous complaints from members of Congress, members of New York City Council, and citizens.
The problem is not new to the New York City Fire Department. In 1973, a judge mandated hiring quotas to increase the number of minority fire fighters, but in the court's opinion this week, by 2001 the city had half as many black firefighters as it did in 1965. Today about a quarter of the city residents are black and about 97 percent of the firefighters are white.
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