In an earlier preliminary ruling, Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis had shown his impartiality by declaring that the NYFD was “a bastion of white male privilege.” To punish those white elitists, Garaufis set down a whole slew of requirements and strictures. First, the department must pay back pay to the unsuccessful applicants, retroactive to the date they first applied. That's about $129 million. Then it must revise the written exams. The department must hire new firefighters at the following rate: two of every five must be black, and one of every five must be Hispanic in order to reach the court's quota of 186 black and 107 Hispanic hires.
Continuing his flight of fancy, the judge ordered not only compensatory money damages, but “non-economic” damages as well. He defined that as the intangible benefits of “prestige, job satisfaction, camaraderie, unique excitement, enjoyment of flexible scheduling, unusual employment stability, feeling of security derived from retiring with a full pension and lifetime medical benefits, and the potential for career advancement.” Wow! I think I'll apply.
Garaufis based his decision on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII. He found that the written exams had a disparate effect on the minority applicants. That is an established fact. If it weren't for the Ricci case, that would have been enough. But Ricci once and for all shifted the burden of proof to the plaintiffs to prove that the disparate impact is negligent and has no rational basis. That was scarcely even addressed in Garaufis's opinion. While blithely dancing around the Ricci decision, Garaufis relied on his own pre-Ricci decision slamming the FDNY.
Sounding more like a social engineer than a legal scholar, Giraufis babbled about fire departments “reflecting the communities they serve.” Why not go the whole way? All firemen in Harlem and Bedford Stuyvesant should be black and most firemen serving Park Avenue shops should be white. Firemen for the Upper West Side should be both white and largely Jewish and/or gay. Maybe we should even add political party affiliation to the mix. Silly enough for you? I always thought firefighters were there to protect human beings, regardless of race, creed, color, national origin or prior condition of servitude. But what do I know?
And to put an exclamation point on his ruling, Garaufis ordered that the failed applicants be granted retroactive benefits, promotions, and seniority, something that was directly addressed in the Ricci case. So just remember, if you're visiting New York City, the people who will be rushing to your rescue when the hotel bursts into flame will be people ordered to be hired by a political judge after getting a whopping 26 or more answers right on a 100 question exam. Shout “help” but don't write it on a sign to be held up, because the fireman may not be able to read it.
I'll be glad when this is finally resolved so we can move on to Philadelphia and address the racial imbalance in poll watchers.