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Appeals Court: Judge Moved Too Quickly In Calling FDNY Discriminatory

New Civil Trial Ordered In Years-Long Case
FDNY Fire Truck (file / credit: Getty Images)

FDNY Fire Truck (file / credit: Getty Images)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A years-long fight for diversity in the New York City Fire Department headed back to square one on Tuesday.

The Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals partially overturned a decision by a Brooklyn U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis, ordering a reduced level of oversight of hiring practices at the FDNY to ensure fair hiring.

The appeals panel said the judge moved too quickly to find the FDNY guilty of intentionally discriminating against black and Hispanic applicants.

A new civil trial was ordered.

The appeals panel did not reverse all the orders Garaufis issued. It stood by rulings that tests administered in past times to screen applicants were biased against minority applicants, as well as orders appointing a court monitor and awarding retroactive pay, according to a New York Times report.

Both sides claimed victory following the ruling.

“We are very pleased with the decision. The Second Circuit, we believe, correctly reversed Judge Garaufis’ determination that on summary judgment – he found on summary judgment – there had been intentional discrimination,” said city Corporation Counsel Michael A. Cardozo.

But the legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights also said on behalf of the plaintiffs that the ruling was a “dramatic victory.”

The ruling resulted from a lawsuit brought by a black firefighters’ group, the Vulcan Society, more than a decade ago.

Garaufis ruled last year that the FDNY discriminated against minorities in its entrance exam. Some minorities who might have otherwise been hired weren’t, and others who were hired might have been hired sooner.

In a subsequent ruling in March, Garaufis ruled that by discrimination in New York City’s firefighter entrance exams could be more than $128 million.

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