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City must hire 111 bypassed black firefighter candidates, court rules

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Chicago Fire Department must hire 111 bypassed black firefighter candidates — and distribute “tens of millions of dollars” in damages to 6,000 others who will never get that chance — a federal appeals court ruled Friday, upholding a landmark ruling.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in a 9-to-0 decision, that, contrary to the city’s contention, African-American candidates hadn’t waited too long before filing a lawsuit that accused the city of discriminating against them for the way it handled a 1995 firefighter’s entrance exam.

On Friday, the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that ruling and sent the case back to the trial court to implement what it called the “hiring remedy” the city has been stalling.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Joshua Karsh said the decision means Chicago must hire 111 African-American firefighters and adjust their pensions as if they had been on the job since 1995. Six-thousand others will share “tens of millions of dollars” in damages, Karsh said.

“We won last June 9-to-0, which is unusual in a civil rights case,” Karsh said. “We then had the city raise a dispute on what the Supreme Court’s opinion means. The Seventh Circuit agreed with us that hiring must now take place.

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