According to to a federal lawsuit filed this past Friday, twelve women allege that despite a federal court judgment against the City for practising “discrimination against women for more than a decade,” Chicago’s Fire Department continues to do so.
The twelve paramedics assert that “hiring discrimination” is still ongoing. According to the lawsuit, after abandoning the discriminatory hiring test, the City invented new tests to disqualify capable women in the Fire Academy. Chicago’s paramedic workforce is 70 percent male and very little has changed for two decades, and the numbers are reflective of “a deep-seated hostility within the CFD to allowing women to serve,” according to a statement issued by their attorney.
Further, attorneys Marni Willenson and Joshua Karsh state that the City abandoned its discriminatory pre-hire test for paramedics in 2014, in a previous lawsuit, only to adopt a new test when more women were hired. “Instead of welcoming women into the Chicago Fire Academy, the City instituted the new tests, which tend to weigh heavily against women candidates and don’t measure whether they can do the job.”
Jennifer Livingston, one of the plaintiffs said: “I have been working as a paramedic for 17 years and have carried very heavy patients up and down stairs, lifted patients onto stretchers, and helped pull patients who have fallen down in their bathrooms out of tight spaces,” and no partner has ever complained she added. “One thing I have not done on the job ever, is step up and down an 18-inch box, keeping beat. That’s not what paramedics do.”
These women have passed all of the physical testing required to get into the Fire Academy, yet are told, “You’re still not good enough,” says their attorney. “Too many women have experienced this, and we know how much it stings.”
“The fire department should not be the boys club that it is; change is long overdue,” they stated. Stay tuned for this developing story. . .