Labor & Employment
7th Circuit: Chicago Fire Department Must Hire 111 Black Candidates
Posted May 13, 2011 1:19 PM CDT
By Stephanie Francis Ward
After a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court opinion that found Chicago’s entry-level firefighter test had a disparate impact based on race, the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today ordered that the city must hire 111 bypassed black firefighter candidates.
The 7th Circuit also ordered that the city distribute “tens of millions of dollars” in damages to other applicants who will never get the chance to be firefighters, the Chicago Sun Times reports. The case was sent back to trial court to implement a “hiring remedy.”
The case, Lewis v. City of Chicago, was brought by 6,000 plaintiffs. It started in 1995, when 26,000 applicants took a written firefighter test. Given the size of the applicant pool, the city decided to only consider applicants who scored 89 or above, and that cutoff excluded a high percentage of minority applicants, the Chicago Tribune reported at the time. In 2005, a U.S. district court judge found that the test had an illegal “disparate impact,” because the city did not justify its use of a cutoff score.