Court Rules NYC Fire Department Uses Discriminatory Hiring Practices
The Federal District Court in Brooklyn ruled Wednesday that the New York City Fire Department uses discriminatory hiring practices against black and Hispanic applicants. According to the New York Times, Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis wrote in his decision that required examinations completed by applicants "unfairly excluded hundreds of qualified people of color from the opportunity to serve as New York City firefighters." The test, he ruled, does not test skills required to be a good firefighter.
The Center for Constitutional Rights filed the suit on behalf of the Vulcan Society, a fraternal order of black firefighters, and three individual applicants. The lawsuit followed two Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaints filed in 2002 and 2005 charging the fire department with discriminatory hiring practices. Only 7.4 percent of New York City firefighters are Black or Latino, which means the city has the least diverse fire department of any major city in the US.
Dana Lossia, a lawyer for the Vulcan Society told the New York Times, "I think this has the potential to very quickly change the demographics of the Fire Department, which has been something that's been a long time coming," The Bloomberg administration faces more litigation to decide if the discrimination was intentional and will potentially have to pay millions in salary reparations.
Ricci v. DeStefano (see PDF), a similar case that originated in New Haven, CT, is a Title VII race case that has far reaching impact on race, sex, and ethnicity employment cases. The Supreme Court eventually ruled that the invalidation of promotion exam results was unconstitutional and that the tests were valid, despite the fact that no African-Americans ranked high enough to be promoted and the absolute adverse racial impact put in question its validity and indicated potential racial bias.
Media Resources: New York Times 7/22/09; Feminist News Wire 6/30/09; Center for Constitutional Rights 7/22/09
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .