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Chicago firefighter bias case: $30 million settlement on table

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Hiring,Human Resources

The controversy over a 1995 Chicago firefighter hiring test may finally be headed toward closure now that a federal appeals court has ruled the city must hire 111 black applicants who passed the test. (See “Chicago firefighters’ case burns on—focus still on allegedly biased promotion tests.”)

The city has run out of options to contest the ruling. In addition to hiring the firefighters, it has offered to pay approximately 6,000 applicants who passed the test a portion of an estimated $30 million.

The 1995 test has dogged the city for years. At first, the city claimed that a passing score was 64. But after the results were in, officials said they would randomly hire from those who scored 89 or better. Most of those scoring over 89 and getting hired were white. Black firefighters challenged the test’s validity. In 2005, a federal judge ruled the test discriminated against blacks.

The city countered with a claim that the firefighters waited too long to challenge the test. That case went to the U. S. Supreme Court, which ruled against the city.

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