Chicago Fire Dept. settles discrimination lawsuit

3-City-_USEWomen_Fire_Dept_lawsuit_men_firefighters.jpgIn 2011, a U.S. Appeals Court ruled in favor of Black Chicago Fire Department applicants who said the way the CFD used application test results was discriminatory. As a result, the court ruled that the city had to hire 111 Black firefighters and pay damages to at least 6,000 other applicants who were denied employment following a 1995 exam. May 2013, the CFD is settling a lawsuit with women who claim the physical fitness test was discriminatory. Photo/Rhonda Gillespie

The Chicago Fire Department has agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by women who claimed the department’s physical fitness test discriminated against female applicants.

Marni Willenson is an attorney for the women.

She says that under the settlement, 138 women who were rejected for jobs will get to reapply or receive a portion of a $2 million payment. The city also will begin using a new fitness exam that Willenson says more closely simulates firefighting.

The settlement still must be approved by a judge, but the women are eligible to reapply for jobs beginning Monday.

Willenson says the previous fitness test didn’t adequately gauge whether a candidate was capable of doing the job.

She says her clients are “ecstatic” and “the city is doing the right thing.”

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