Split Ruling for FDNY Following Illegal Ruling by Judge Garaufis



photo of would-be Emperor, Judge Garaufis

The Vulcan society is the black organization of New York City firefighters who want to increase the number of minority firefighters. There are 3.4% black and 7% other minority to about 90% white.

The way the society is going about objecting is not good for the fire department. They joined with others in a lawsuit against the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) which resulted in a judge ordering illegal race-based quotas.

Mayor Bloomberg has done a good job of eliminating the potential for bias in the fire department and he has made extraordinary efforts to recruit blacks, but the Vulcan society says it is not enough. They believe the test used to hire firefighters was biased.

Judge Nicholas G. Garufis, who ruled on the case last year, demanded that the FDNY hire according to race-based quotas and declared the FDNY test racist. He ordered two of every five newly hired firefighters to be black and one of every five Hispanic until they have an equal proportional representation to whites.

Race-based quotas have been struck down by the SCOTUS – they are illegal. Bloomberg’s office has tried to get Garaufis removed because of his irrational rulings but that is difficult to do if not impossible.

A split ruling came down Tuesday May 14th. It did not remove the monitor put in place by Garaufis – the monitor micromanages every step of the hiring process at the fire department. The monitor’s powers have been trimmed however and his term has been reduced to five years from ten as a result of the latest decision.

The 59-page ruling did reverse Garaufis’ finding the city intentionally discriminated and they banned Garaufis from rehearing the issue.

The ruling also ended the forced requirement of hiring expensive outside consultants to micromanage minority recruitment efforts, giving back control over much of the hiring process to the city.

Judge Garaufis’ ruling could cost the city as much as $128 million as it would be required to hire and give back pay to those minorities who failed the test or did poorly on it. Those lawsuits are still underway and were not considered in this ruling.

Councilman Peter Vallone, a Queens Democrat, mocked Judge Garufis. “I couldn’t agree with you more regarding Emperor Garaufis’s ruling, I mean Judge Garufis.”

The Emperor-judge ordered the hiring of unqualified people simply because they are minorities. Minorities were given free prep courses to assist them in taking the test but that wasn’t enough in Garaufis’ opinion.

The city did not contest the older tests as biased. They are working on a new test.  There is no evidence the older tests are biased.

The problem as the judge sees it is that minorities are underrepresented with whites holding 89% of the jobs. Whites have the jobs because they took the tests and did better on them. Hiring is not done on a subjective basis. There is an interview but the physical and written tests are the deciding factors.

Judge Garaufis ruled that black or Latino applicants for the NYC fire department are qualified because they are minorities. He ruled that the test was biased even though a third of the top scorers were minorities. This ruling came down after a five-year hiring freeze at the FDNY which was caused by this lawsuit.

This battle has been ongoing for a decade. On May 21, 2007, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit against the City of New York charging it with discriminatory hiring practices against black and Latino firefighter applicants because blacks and Latinos are underrepresented in the FDNY.

The lawsuit stemmed from complaints by the Center for Constitutional Rights’ (CCR) and two Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charges of discrimination, one filed on behalf of the Vulcan Society in 2002, and the other filed in 2004 on behalf of a number of individual black and Latino candidates.

CCR wants the test standards changed to increase the number of blacks and Latinos however they can. They intend to force the FDNY to hire blacks and Latinos who didn’t qualify, giving them back pay and retroactive seniority.

Judge Garaufis determined that the fire department entrance exam was unfair to blacks and Latinos and he blasted Mayor Bloomberg for allegedly not doing enough to increase the numbers of blacks and Latinos on the fire department. This judicial ruling was so absurd that it denied Asians are minorities even though they are the least represented group in the FDNY.

Judge Garaufis told Mayor Bloomberg that he should use illegal race-based quotas until the city comes up with a test he (the judge) says is fair. The city’s corporation counsel, Michael A. Cardozo, in a letter to Garaufis said, “The city respectfully believes that using raced-based quotas to select firefighters is both illegal and unwise public policy. For these reasons, the city declines to select any one of the five proposals offered by the Court.”

The five illegal proposals offered by Judge Garaufis:

  1. Select randomly from the top 2500 but include 17.5% black and 18.5% Hispanic
  2. Replace eligible white test takers with 17.5% black and 18.5% Hispanic applicants.
  3. Bring in a class of 221 applicants to include 22 black and 33 Hispanic candidates and remove the lower scoring whites who scored higher than the minorities. Another 13 black and 4 Hispanics would have to be processed somehow.
  4. Hire the group of 300 right away but then hire a second class, making certain that the two classes combined reflect the judge’s arbitrary numbers.
  5. The last proposal states that a group of 117 would be hired from the list of 300. It would include 20 blacks and 22 Hispanics. Read here: blackvoicenews

Understand that this would mean hiring some minorities who didn’t even pass the test.

Take a look at this FDNY exam study guide and you tell me what is unfair or inappropriate about any of these questions.

The questions seem to be basic and test job-related abilities focused on keeping our firefighters safe and ensuring that they are capable of making the best decisions in life and death situations.

Here is a sample:

Use the information in the following passage to answer questions 7 and 8.

At 2:30 A.M. on Saturday, Engine Companies 7 and 12 responded to a call from Mrs. Farrell, an elderly woman living in Cedarbook townhouses, apartment number 731. Upon arrival at Mrs. Farrell’s home, Lieutenant Decker noticed no flames or smoke, but smelled a strong burning odor. Lieutenant Decker asked Mrs. Farrell how long she had smelled the odor and if there were any other occupants in her apartment. Mrs. Farrell stated the odor woke her up at 2:15 A.M., just before she called the fired department and that she lived alone. Lieutenant Decker sent Firefighters Farbar and Fulton to investigate the source of the odor. As soon as they entered the living room, dark smoke began to seep up through the heating grates on the floor, so they went to the basement to investigate. Lieutenant Decker took Mrs. Farrell to one of the vehicles outside and sent two other firefighters to awaken and evacuate the individuals in the surrounding townhouse apartments. Upon entering the basement, Firefighters Farber and Fulton immediately discovered the source of the fire. Some old wooden furniture had been stored too close to the furnace and had caught fire. Firefighter Farber began to put out the flames with the fire extinguisher he had carried in with him. Firefighter Fulton went outside to get additional help.

7. Mrs. Farrell called the Fire Department because she awoke to:

A. the sight of flames

B. the sight of smoke

C. the sound of sparks

D. a burning odor

8. The fire in Mrs. Farrell’s apartment had started in:

A. the heating duct that led into the living room

B. some old furniture stored in the basement

C. Mrs. Farrell’s bedroom

My hope is that the test will not be dumbed down. We need qualified people. The lives of firefighters and residents need to be safeguarded first and foremost.