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Jacksonville City Sued by United States Department of Justice

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A lawsuit has been filed against Jacksonville City and its Association of Firefighters by the United States Department of Justice. The Department of Justice filed the lawsuit stating that those in the lawsuit have been discriminating against firefighters who are black and were looking to receive a promotion. The lawsuit was recently filed at the beginning of the week because the department believes that a test that was handed out to the firefighters who wanted a promotion is basically the reason that several black applicants were unable to advance. Several firefighter ranks are being questioned, which includes the District Chief, Captain, Lieutenant, and the Engineer.

The Department of Justice is claiming that a written test is being handed out to the individuals who are looking to improve the position and receive a promotion but they believe that it is not job related and is basically a way to impact black individuals in a negative way, by preventing them from getting the promotion they desire. The DOJ also claims that the fire department is not doing anything to change the discrimination that is going on behind the scenes, which is why they felt the need to investigate further.

DOJ gave a straight forward explanation on what they feel is going on. They claim that whenever there were certain job vacancies, the individuals with high scores on the written test would be selected to receive the promotion over those who did not have a higher score. However, out of the 85 firefighters that were tested, only 15 of them were black in the first place and while many of the passed the written test, they still were not place on the eligibility list for promotion. In 2004, only one black candidate was promoted and the following time, in 2008, not one black candidate received a promotion.

In 2011, when the test was given again, only 12 of the 246 candidates were black. And, apparently, a large chunk of white individuals passed the test when hardly any black individuals passed the test. Because of this, the Department of Justice wants the city and fire department to refrain from using those written tests that are being questioned. They want the city and fire department to revise their process for promoting individuals. The DOJ also wants firefighters who have been impacted in a negative way to receive relief, which would include some back pay and most likely, several promotions.

The Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division, Thomas Perez, says that this complaint should show all employers that discrimination based on race or anything else will simply not be allowed in the workplace. Perez points out that the tests do not measure much of what it would take to be a supervisor and also says that it prevents African American individuals from being able to advance while working within the fire department.

Jacksonville City Sued by United States Department of Justice by
Authored by: Harrison Barnes