Federal judge orders city to hire four
white firefighters (08-26-03)
[Associated Press via The Portsmouth
"BOSTON - Four white men who
sued the Boston Fire Department for discrimination when they were passed over for
firefighting jobs in favor of minority candidates who scored lower on civil service tests
must be hired as soon as possible, a federal judge ruled.
| "When hired,
the men must be awarded back pay and the seniority they would have earned since October
2000, the date they were denied employment, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Stearns
ordered on Monday [Aug. 25, 2003].
plaintiff who was hired last October also will get a pay raise under the ruling.
"I think hopefully we're just going back to normal, the way it was meant to be, so
that now they are just hiring the best person, regardless of race or color," said
Harold Lichten, the attorney for all five men.
"The judge's decision applies only to the men who sued -- Joseph Quinn, who already
has been hired; Sean O'Brien; Robert Dillon; Joseph Sullivan, and C. Roger Kendrick Jr. --
and was not intended to establish a precedent for other white applicants who were passed
over in October 2000.
"[Judge] Stearns at first rejected the civil rights suit filed in April 2001, the
first to challenge the department's affirmative action hiring policy since 1989, when it
was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
"But the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Stearns, ruling in March 
that the city has achieved its goal of racial parity among entry-level firefighters, and
no longer needed to abide by a nearly 30-year-old court order that departments across the
state have used as a model to correct racial imbalance."
from the Associated Press story as it appeared in the Portsmouth Herald 8-26-03
Last known links to original story:
Hiring Policy shift has whites eyeing fire
Test scores now rule instead of diversity
"Their family names are storied in the Boston Fire Department: Pierce, Stapleton. But
unlike their father and uncle, who served as city fire commissioner, these men have been
shut out of the profession that runs in their blood.
nearly perfect scores on civil service exams and family connections, Martin Pierce III and
Kevin and Edward Ferent have been unable to land jobs as Boston firefighters. But now,
because of a federal appeals court ruling ... they and dozens of other white applicants
passed over for minorities may get their wish.
Globe analysis of the March 27 court decision and the results of civil service exams
administered within the past three years shows that about 70 white men and women who were
bypassed in favor of lower-scoring minorities now have legal standing to claim jobs.
applicants would have been hired had the city abandoned [the court ordered racial quota]
in 2000 when, the court ruled, racial parity had been achieved in the fire department.
"Meanwhile, hundreds of other white applicants are in line to claim future
firefighter jobs in the Boston Fire Department ...
"In an interview last week, Fire Commissioner Paul Christian said he will do
everything possible to keep the department diverse. That means heavy recruiting,
particularly among minorities in the armed services, who would jump to the top of the
hiring list as veterans.
"... the hiring consent decree was first implemented in 1974, mandating that one
minority candidate be hired for each white ... By 2000, however, minority firefighters
constituted 39.9 percent of the firefighting ranks - higher than their 38 percent
representation in the city as a whole - making the affirmative action program unnecessary
and illegal, the federal appeals court ruled.
"Test score data provided by the state Human Resources Division under the Freedom of
Information Act show that about 70 white men and women who scored 99 or 100 on the 1998
and 2000 civil service exams for firefighter were not hired by the Boston Fire Department
at the same time that minority applicants with scores as low as 91 were. ''For those
people, the brass ring was right there and they couldn't grab it,'' said Deputy Chief
Joseph Finn, who oversees hiring. ''Their opportunity has come.''
"Several unsuccessful candidates have already consulted lawyers. A group of 10
[non-minority] applicants who scored 99 may sue together, said their lawyer, Edward
''I want the job. I've always wanted the job since I was a kid,'' said Edward Ferent, 31,
a South Boston lobsterman whose uncle, Leo Stapleton, was fire commissioner in the 1980s.
Ferent and his brother, Kevin, may both be eligible for jobs.
''I'm so excited. I feel maybe now we'll finally get through,'' said Ferent, who took the
test five times and scored 99s and 98s. ''I'd tell my wife, I got a 99' and she'd
say, That's great,' and I'd have to tell her, No, it isn't. I don't have a
"Since 2000, no white applicant who scored lower than 100 has been hired as a Boston
firefighter, unless he or she was a veteran or the son or daughter of a firefighter killed
or disabled at work, the Globe analysis found. ... Even some white candidates with scores
of 100 were not offered jobs. [Emphasis added.]
"City officials, who had supported continuing the affirmative action policy, said
they do not intend to appeal the decision to the US Supreme Court, which is considered
unlikely to reverse the federal appeals court panel, given that minority representation in
the fire department now mirrors that of the general population in Boston.
"For now, only the five men who successfully challenged the now-abandoned affirmative
action hiring policy in court are in line to get a job. They and their lawyers believe
they will be hired with back pay and seniority.
''I want to get squared away and be placed in the [fire] academy,'' said Sean O'Brien, 35,
a Dorchester emergency medical technician and one of the five plaintiffs. ''I've been
taking these tests since 1987 and to look too far ahead may jinx it.''
from the Monday 6-16-03 Boston Globe story written by Andrea Estes and Douglas Belkin.
Last known links to original
Court halts racial decree
for Fire Dept. (3-28-03)
"Finding that the Boston Fire Department had achieved racial balance among its
firefighters, a federal appeals court yesterday said the department can no longer follow
[a racial-quota-based] affirmative action policy that requires the hiring of one minority
firefighter for every white one.
| "In reversing
a lower-court judge, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit said that the
29-year-old consent decree governing hiring in the Boston Fire Department ''had outlived
''At long last ... parity has been reached between the percentage of minority firefighters
in the BFD and the percentage of minorities in the city as a whole,'' wrote Judge Bruce M.
Selya for the majority of the three-judge panel.
"The ruling came in a case brought by five white men who were not hired as
firefighters in 2000.
"The men were
the first to challenge the department's [racial-quota-based] affirmative action hiring
policy since 1989, when it was upheld by the US Supreme Court.
"Each of the plaintiffs, including a Boston emergency medical technician and a
Lexington firefighter, was passed over several times, despite scoring 98 or better on the
civil service exam.
"The Appeals Court agreed with the plaintiffs, who argued that census figures showed
the city has met hiring goals contained in the 1974 federal consent decree.
"In 2000, according to the data collected in the case, 40 percent of Boston
firefighters were black or Hispanic, at a time when the two groups represented slightly
more than 38 percent of the city's population.
''There no longer can be a quota system for entry-level hiring at the Boston Fire
Department,'' said attorney Harold Lichten, who represented the plaintiffs in the case.
''The court has said you must pick based on merit.
''My clients are salt-of-the-earth, wonderful guys who weren't out to change the world or
make a political statement,'' he said. ''They just have been trying for many years - in
some cases 10 years - to become firefighters. It was their lifelong dream.''
"Nick DiMarino, president of Boston Firefighters Local 718, said the [courts]
decision means that now all hiring will be done ''according to the score. ... It doesn't
matter what race, color, creed or religion, it should just be the highest score. That's
what the union has always felt. That's the fair way. There should be competition one on
one. If you beat me, you deserve [the job].''
"In the 41-page ruling, the court says the city acted in good faith when it applied
the one minority-one white formula. But it is no longer necessary.
"Even so, the five plaintiffs may not displace the minority firefighters hired in
their place, the court ruled. But the court also said that the plaintiffs had been
unfairly denied a job, and left it to US District Judge Richard Stearns, who had issued
the earlier ruling upholding the affirmative action policy, to ''sort through this
"Four of the five men said they hope to be hired with seniority, benefits, and back
pay. The fifth one, Joseph Quinn, recently became a Boston firefighter after scoring a
perfect 100. ''I've only been on for a month,'' said Quinn, of Dorchester. ''I'm very
happy. I've waited a long, long time. I'm thrilled for the other four guys. They deserve
from the 3-28-03 story in the Boston Globe written by Andrea Estes with contributions by
Last known link to original story:
Judges rule BFD need not consider race
in hiring (3-28-03)
"A three-member federal appeals panel yesterday ruled that the hiring of Boston
firefighters should no longer be guided by a 1974 court order mandating race-based
preferences to remedy past discrimination.
"Remediation has taken more than a quarter century. At long last, however, that
objective has been achieved with respect to the BFD,'' First Circuit Judges Bruce M. Selya
and Norman H. Stahl wrote.
| "The 1974
decree ordered the racial composition of fire departments in scores of communities to
reflect the population in those municipalities.
panel's remarks about the 1974 decree were included in a ruling ordering that five white
men who were denied firefighter jobs get their day in court. A district court judge had
[previously] thrown out part of their 1998 lawsuit against the city on summary judgment.
"Joseph Quinn, Sean O'Brien, Robert Dillon, Joseph Sullivan and Roger Kendrick Jr.
all scored 99 out of 100 on the firefighter exam but were passed over for minority
candidates [with lower test scores].
"Their lawsuit argues the city had achieved the orders of the 1974 decree by the
November 2000 hiring cycle and [quota-based] affirmative action should no longer apply.
from the 3-28-03 story in the Boston Herald written by J.M. Lawrence.
Last known link to original story:
END Case 37: (B) Boston FD News Stories