A “Lil Positivity”: Chicago Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Black Firefighters

- By Bossip Staff

This is a good look:

The Supreme Court dealt a potentially costly defeat to the city of Chicago Monday, reinstating a discrimination ruling in favor of 6,000 black applicants for firefighting jobs in the 1990s.

In a 9-0 decision, the justices said Chicago had used an entry-level test for the Chicago Fire Department that had a “disparate impact” based on race. And therefore, they said, the city was liable for paying damages to those applicants who had “qualified” scores on the test, but were excluded in favor of those who scored higher.

Earlier this year, a lawyer for black applicants estimated the total damages in the case could reach $100 million.

Monday’s ruling is the latest twist in a long-running set of lawsuits over the use of civil service exams for hiring police and firefighters, both in Chicago and elsewhere. Justice Antonin Scalia, speaking at the court Monday, said he and his colleagues were applying the civil rights laws as written by Congress, not necessarily as he and others think it should be written. Since 1991, federal law has made it illegal for employers to use an “employment practice” that had a “disparate impact on the basis of race.”

The Chicago case began in 1995 when 26,000 applicants took a written test to become a city firefighter. Faced with the large number applicants for only several hundred jobs, the city decided it would only consider those who scored 89 or above.

This cut-off score excluded a high percentage of the minority applicants. And after a trial in 2005, U.S. District Judge Joan Gottschall ruled the test had an illegal “disparate impact” because the city had not justified the use of the cut-off score. Experts had testified that applicants who scored in the 70s or 80s were shown to be capable of succeeding as firefighters.

The city did not contest that conclusion, but it won a reversal from the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals on a procedural technicality. The appellate judges said the applicants had waited too long to sue. They had not sued during the year when the test results were released, but sued only after the scores were used to decide who would be hired.


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    Hmmmmmmm Most of the Fire and Police Department here is Irish.

  • rorybreakerr

    Yeah the Irish used to have the fire departments on lock(still do at a lot of firehouses ).

  • Chitown

    Most of those Irish firefighters are handed the test prior to taking it from family. The Irish in Chicago stick together big time. I know a lot of firefighters in Chicago. The low test results for minorities has nothing to do with whites being smarter. Trust me a lot of the higher scoring whites received the test in advance.

  • http://perryone779@yahoo,com rose by any other name # 9304026339482056536 ™

    I wouldnt doubt it, whites always during some under hand low down xdirty crap to exclude blacks.. thats how they make it in the world.. dirty low down scoundrels!!

  • I'm Just Me... Keeping it Real Since: 1983...EXPECTING

    The Irish still got the police department on lock up here.

    The fire department is more mixed but still not a lot of blacks.



    They sure do. Sad thing is they don’t even try and hide it anymore well at least the young dumb ones. The make it known that they’re already plugged….

  • Lovelybubbly

    This renews my faith in the justice system the black firefighters fought back and won! Cheers to them!

  • http://aol ebonieladi

    The same is going on here in NY. They have had a suit against the city for years. Recently a judge found that the tests were discriminatory.
    And Here in NY the Fire Dept is a family business. All of their relatives work for the dept and get the inside tip on getting in. There is something like 1% or 2% black firefighters and maybe 8% total minority in this largely minority city and the dept is mostly Irish and Italian.

  • 2dimplzs

    That’s a shame – and yes the Irish do stick together and NO they do not hide it. It’s very blatant.

    Our police department where I live is very much like the fire department in the Chi. Very racist and they stick together and cover for each other no matter what. I’m happy that these applicants will finally get the justice they deserve, even though it’s monetary and not an actual fire fighting JOB – which I’m sure many would prefer!

  • why?

    When will Black people stick together?! Just a thought since we can point out how every other race does..

  • cali-gurl86


    I totally agree. I wish as Black people, we would band together like the Irish, Italians, Asians, Mexicans and just really any and every other race here in America. I always see everyone else sticking together but I rarely see Black people standing up for one another, especially in the communities here in Cali. I hate seeing it to be honest.

  • :)

    I’m with you why and Cali Girl. Pisses me off.

  • I'mJustSayin'

    I hope those brothas get the justice they deserve and win their case and are awarded the max. White firefighters would have people think that they rightfully earned their spots, but everyone knows that the majority of them have someone on the inside pulling strings for them to get in.

  • always knew

    Good to see the playing field, getting leveled..


  • lizetxo

    I want the smartest and the best working civil jobs, if all irish firefighters score higher than the other minorities than they should be firefighters. I’m so sick of everyone having to downgrade their standards so that things can be “fair” …..life isn’t fair…get over it….

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