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DOJ sues Fla. firefighters association for discrimination

Lawsuit alleges written test for promotion had 'disparate impact upon blacks'


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The U.S. Department of Justice filed suit against a Fla. city and its firefighter association on Monday.

The lawsuit said the city of Jacksonville and the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters discriminated against black firefighters for promotions, according to First Coast News.

A written test for a number of ranks, including captain and lieutenant, had a "disparate impact upon blacks" and resulted in a "statistically significantly lower" number of black applicants being promoted, the suit said.

The department's complaint also alleged that the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department hasn't done anything to fix the processes, the article said.

JFRD officials were not interviewed for the First Coast News article.

"Defendant Jacksonville has pursued and continues to pursue policies and practices that discriminate against blacks and that deprive blacks of employment opportunities because of their race, in violation of" the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the DOJ wrote in its suit.

The suit requests a court order to stop the use of the tests in question and to redefine the promotion selection processes. It also demands back pay, retroactive seniority and promotions for black firefighters negatively impacted by the tests, First Coast News reported.

"This complaint should send a clear message to all public employers that employment practices that have the effect of excluding qualified candidates on account of race will not be tolerated," said Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "At best, these tests measure only a slice of what is necessary to be a supervisor, but they stand in the way of qualified African-Americans advancing in the fire department."

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