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Applicants win workplace discrimination settlement of $780,000

After being under a high level of scrutiny, the Austin Fire Department can continue with its hiring process for cadets. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, a test that was administered as a condition for employment with the Texas city were discriminatory. The test was considered a form of workplace discrimination because it could allegedly rule out black and Latino applicants.

Although the process was changed in 2013 to avoid these types of practices, the Justice Department contended that it still was discriminatory. The hiring process was halted until a ruling was made about the test. The city did not believe that it was in violation of the law and the Austin Firefighters Association agreed.

To prevent further litigation, the union president suggested that the fire department hire 30 black and Latino applicants as opposed to negotiating a settlement. These applicants would be pulled from those that had applied in 2012. Instead, a ruling was made that $780,000 would be awarded to the denied class of candidates that could receive back wages. Additionally, 30 future positions would be reserved for Latino and black applicants and the hiring process would be overseen by the Justice Department for the next several years.

It is illegal for any part of the hiring process to be discriminatory. This type of workplace discrimination is not limited to tests or to questions asked during interviews. Texas workers who feel that they have been denied jobs or singled out because of their race may choose to file claims against the employers. If the case is successful, the claimant may be given the position, as well as any other compensatory damages or back wages as awarded by the court.

Source: brownsvilleherald.com, "Settlement approved in hiring discrimination case", Nov. 8, 2014

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