Ten years after NAACP and African American firefighters in Jacksonville, Florida filed discrimination complaints, a federal court approves settlement awarding $4.9 million and ordering the development of new promotional examinations
A federal judge in Jacksonville, Florida has approved a Consent Decree which settles a large-scale race discrimination lawsuit involving promotions in the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department (JFRD”).
The case was brought by the U.S. Department of Justice and the NAACP (represented by Miner Barnhill & Galland’s Robert Libman and Benjamin Blustein and their co-counsel Kirsten Doolittle), the Jacksonville Brotherhood of Fire Fighters (“JBOF”), and numerous African-American firefighters in the JFRD. The plaintiffs alleged that the JFRD violated federal civil rights law by using certain promotional tests that disproportionately eliminated Africa-American candidates but did not predict successful job performance.
The case was initiated over ten years ago by the NAACP and individual firefighters, and was litigated vigorously until the parties negotiated a settlement agreement on the eve of trial. Pursuant to the settlement, the City of Jacksonville has agreed to: (a) pay $4.9 million to cover, among other things, monetary relief to African-American candidates who took the challenged tests; (b) create up to 40 new promotional positions to be filled by African-American candidates who were impacted by the tests; and (c) develop new, lawful, promotional tests.
“The settlement is a testament to the determination and persistence of African-American firefighters in Jacksonville to obtain equal justice under the law, and to ensure a fair promotional process going forward,” said Benjamin Blustein of Miner, Barnhill & Galland. “It was a privilege for our firm to work together with the NAACP, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Kirsten Doolittle, and Bruce Elfvin on behalf of Jacksonville’s African-American firefighters.”