A Brooklyn federal judge on Friday set the stage for broad monitoring of the FDNY by finding that failings in recruitment, candidate screening and handling of equal-employment complaints have contributed to discrimination.
U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis, who ordered the fire department to redesign its firefighter test last year, held hearings this summer about whether court supervision was needed to address other factors that had led to a 90 percent white department.
His 80-page decision Friday upheld most of the claims made by the Vulcan Society, the black firefighters group that sued the FDNY. Garaufis said he would announce his plan for addressing the problems in his next ruling.
While special recruitment efforts for the new test ordered by Garaufis have produced a 50 percent minority applicant pool, he said there was no assurance of funding and goals to produce the same results in the future.
The judge also criticized the lengthy and extensive post-test screening of successful applicants, which he said produced a 40 percent higher dropout rate for minorities than whites among those who did best on the test. He said the department needed an "attrition mitigation" plan.
"White firefighter candidates are significantly more likely to have friends or family members in the FDNY . . . encouraging them to persevere through the FDNY's inordinately long hiring process," Garaufis wrote. "Black firefighter candidates are significantly less likely to have similar informal support mechanisms available to them."
In testimony this summer, FDNY Commissioner Sal Cassano said he didn't think court intervention was necessary to run the department. The city's law department said Friday it was reviewing the decision.