Black firefighters in Jacksonville, Fla. filed a class-action suit April 13 against the city and the firefighters’ union alleging that the promotion process discriminates against minorities.
“This was done because it needed to be done,” Dennis Thompson, attorney for the Black firefighters told The Florida Times Union.
The two sides had been involved in a mediation process; one, which all parties said, was progressing, according to reports. For that reason, union president Randy Wyse said the suit caught him off guard.
“I’m very surprised, when we were making such headway in the mediation when the lawsuit was filed,” he told ABC Jacksonville affiliate WJXX.
The lawsuit centers on the city’s testing process for promotions. According to the suit, the exams given for advancement are flawed, invalid under state and city laws and are not merit-based, which allegedly causes the advancement process to have an adverse impact on people of color.
“There are no experts in testing with the unions, and yet they are negotiating this stuff,” Thompson told independent television station WJXT. “They have no idea what they are talking about.”
Additionally, the suit claims that the plaintiffs have evidence of White candidates cheating on the tests.
According to reports, city officials claimed they do not comment on ongoing mediation.
“Like all the cases, we’ll review the case and it will proceed along at its usual course,” Jacksonville general counsel Cindy Laquidara told WJXX. “We’ll be following the rules to a tee.”
In their suit, the Black firefighters are asking for all promotions due to them as well as back pay, court costs and an injunction against administering any tests until a new, more balanced process is created.
Click Here to read a copy of the lawsuit.