In a class action suit, minority firefighters were awarded $128 million from the city of New York for allegedly using biased entrance forms to keep them off the force. The U.S. District judge who ruled in the case also ordered the FDNY to hire 293 Black and Latino applicants. Prosecutors claim the exams had little to do with firefighting skills, but focused on unexpected cognitive and reading skills. They also believe nepotism allowed more Whites to join the force. When the case was first filed in 2007, Black firefighters accounted for only 3.4 percent of the department's almost 9,000-deep force.
“This pattern of underrepresentation has remained essentially unchanged since, at least, the 1960s,” the lawsuit said. “While the city's other uniformed services have made rapid progress integrating Black members into their ranks, the fire department has stagnated and at times retrogressed." While more than half of L.A. and Philadelphia’s fire departments are Blacks or Latinos, the nation overall still lags with 8.4 percent of firefighters being African-American and 8.6 being Latino.
Should there be enforced affirmative action for more minority firefighters throughout the country?