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City of Austin, DOJ Could Settle Today In AFD Discrimination Case

Updated: Thursday, January 30 2014, 08:23 AM CST
On Thursday the City of Austin and the Department of Justice could reach a settlement on how to move forward after the DOJ accused the Austin Fire Department of discriminating against minorities.

In September 2013, the DOJ found that tests given to firefighter applicants have a negative impact on blacks and Hispanics.

The DOJ spent five months investigating after an applicant filed suit when he didn't get hired.

After more than four months of negotiating since that report came out, the city and DOJ could settle and move forward during an executive session of the City Council meeting.

Under the tentative agreement they've reached for a "proposed consent decree", AFD could resume and finish its current hiring process, with some changes to the original design, but the DOJ would have to pre-clear any future changes to the hiring process. Also, the fire department could give back pay and priority hiring to some of the Hispanic and black candidates from the 2012 hiring process that didn't get in. The priority hiring component "includes thirty positions in future fire cadet academies, divided between 12 African American candidate slots and eighteen Hispanic candidate slots", according to a recent city memo. Backpay is capped at $780,000 for all candidates.

These new rules would last between four to eight years.

Going forward, if the city and the DOJ both approve these steps Thursday, a federal judge would still need to approve them in federal court.

If both parties don't approve the proposed consent decree, the city memo says the DOJ will likely sue the city in federal court.

City of Austin, DOJ Could Settle Today In AFD Discrimination Case

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