City must change firefighter selection process, provide back pay

A fire truck in for repairs at the fleet maintenance division.

AUSTIN (KXAN/AP) — The U.S. Justice Department has agreed to a settlement for the Austin Fire Department to resolve a lawsuit involving the Fire Department’s hiring practices.

A Justice Department statement Monday says the agreement still needs court approval. Federal officials had argued that Austin used a written test that eliminated black and Hispanic entry-level firefighter applicants disproportionately.

The Department has not been able to hire new firefighters since 2012 because of allegations that the hiring process discriminated against minorities.

If approved by the court, the fire department could begin to hire new firefighters.

The consent decree will require the Department no longer use the selection practices challenged by the DOJ in screening and selecting candidates for entry-level positions. The city must also dish out $780,000 in back pay to entry-level applicants “who were harmed by the 2012 hiring practice … and who are determined to be eligible for relief.”

“Additionally, African-American and Hispanic applicants determined to be eligible for relief under the decree will be eligible for one of 30 priority appointments to an entry-level firefighter position with the AFD,” the Department of Justice said.

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