Merit Matters Press Release
Monday, January 9th, 2012
Merit Matters has become aware of a “pilot program” approved by Special Monitor Mark Cohen and Judge Nicholas Garaufis that will benefit one group of applicants while excluding all others- and the race of the applicants is the sole determining factor in the decision to do so.
The bold headline at the top of this page is correct in all but one point- it is blacks who are being afforded special treatment, and whites and others who are being excluded.
Those who were outraged upon reading the headline should still be outraged; why wouldn’t they be? Discrimination against one is discrimination against all, is it not? As Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has opined, the way to stop discrimination based on race is to stop discriminating based on race.
The “pilot program” (which is worrisome, as a pilot program is often expanded and becomes entrenched as official policy) to visit the homes of black applicants (and no other group) to allow them to “follow up” on incomplete applications is completely unacceptable to Merit Matters, and should be to everyone. Immediately upon learning of it we made numerous requests to the FDNY Recruitment Unit, FDNY EEO Unit and the Special Monitor because, while we don’t believe anyone should be allowed to submit a “completed” application 4 months after the application period has ended, if one group is allowed to all should be and Merit Matters would provide volunteers to visit all applicants- regardless of race. Our requests, which were first made before Christmas, were turned down and the first of three weekends of visits occurred this past weekend.
Another worrisome aspect of this episode is the reaction- or, more correctly, the lack of a reaction- to this blatantly racist act by the FDNY EEO Unit. In our contacts with them we urged that this Unit take whatever action is necessary to oppose and stop this discriminatory action or else explain how it does not violate FDNY EEO Policy which reads in part:
“The Fire Department is firmly committed to maintaining fair employment practices for its employees and applicants and ensuring that employment decisions are made without regard to color...gender...race...religion...”
The advice given to us by EEO was to contact the NYC Law Department (which, to its credit, opposed this pilot program but was forced to comply with the court’s order), an avenue we were already pursuing. We responded by advising that an issue such as this is squarely in the EEO area of concern and should be addressed by them - but our advice went ignored. Perhaps the new leadership doesn’t realize that the first “E” in EEO stands for “Equal”, not “Extra”.
Merit Matters continues to call for equal treatment for all candidates and will visit anyone and everyone if the court allows. Time is of the essence, however, as the test is scheduled to begin at the end of February.
Please contact me with any questions.
President - Merit Matters516-848-9847 cell