FDNY hiring case judge rejects criticisms

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The federal judge overseeing the discrimination case against New York City's fire department yesterday rejected all the criticisms of his rulings offered by dozens of firefighters at so-called fairness hearings this month.

U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis said that the 700 written and oral complaints over four days of hearings to his rulings granting back pay, priority hiring and retroactive seniority for minorities were all meritless, and said he wasn't changing a thing in the orders he has issued.

"The overwhelming majority of the objectors used the process to . . . malign the court for daring to interfere with the culture of the FDNY, and make the utterly baseless suggestion that those individuals who receive priority hiring relief will be unqualified to be firefighters," Garaufis wrote.

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The FDNY is 90 percent white. Garaufis invalidated two tests as discriminatory, and ordered a new test designed. He ordered back pay of $128 million to minorities who took the tests and didn't get job, and ordered that 293 disappointed test-takers who pass a new test should get a hiring preference and seniority dating back to the original test.

The judge has also appointed a monitor to oversee equal employment at the FDNY, including recruitment, screening of successful test-takers and handling of discrimination issues. The city has already given a new court-approved test, but has appealed his other rulings.


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