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Settlement pays FDNY women $1.3 million to end bias suit

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

The New York City Fire Department (FDNY) has settled a long-standing gender discrimination case with five women who work as emergency medical technicians. They’ll split $1.3 million under the terms of the settlement.

The women claim they were consistently passed over for promotions while men moved up the chain of command much more quickly.

The problem stems from the un­­usual civil-service system the FDNY uses. Applicants for lieutenant positions must pass a civil-service exam. Promotions to the ranks above lieutenant—captain and chief—are made by supervisors, who have few rules to guide them.

The women who sued all claim they were stuck in lieutenant positions, while similarly situated men were promoted more often.

The suit spent seven years working its way through the courts, and all the plaintiffs are now either retired or preparing to retire.

They received $1.06 million in back pay and $261,000 in damages. Retroactive adjustments to their pensions will likely cost millions more.

Advice: Always use the most objective data available to evaluate candidates for promotion. Other­­wise, the system could appear open to manipulation.

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