United States v. City of New York
FDNY Employment Discrimination Case
Frequently Asked Questions
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I. Background Questions
II. Claims Process Questions
III. Compensatory Damages Questions (for black claimants only)
IV. Settlement of Back Pay and Fringe Benefits Claims Questions
I. Background Questions
II. Claims Process Questions
III. Compensatory Damages Questions (for black claimants only)
IV. Settlement of Back Pay and Fringe Benefits Claims Questions
I. Background Questions
Who are the parties in this case?
The Plaintiff in this case is the United States of America. The Department of Justice, on behalf of the United States, is authorized to bring suit to enforce Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. (“Title VII”), against state and local government employers.
The Vulcan Society and seven individual firefighter applicants, Roger Gregg, Marcus Haywood, Candido Nuñez, Jamel Nicholson, Rusebell Wilson, Kevin Walker, and Kevin Simpkins, are Plaintiffs-Intervenors in this action. The Vulcan Society is an organization of black firefighters in the New York City Fire Department ("FDNY"). The Vulcan Society and the individual firefighter applicants (referred to here collectively as the "Plaintiffs-Intervenors") intervened on behalf of themselves and all black applicants for the position of entry-level firefighter who were harmed by the employment practices challenged in this lawsuit.
The Defendant in this case is the City of New York, a local government employer, which maintains a fire department (FDNY) and employs firefighters.
What claims did the United States bring against the City?
In May 2007, the United States filed suit against the City of New York in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York (case number 07-cv-2067). The United States alleged that since 1999, the City had discriminated against black and Hispanic applicants for the position of entry-level firefighter in the FDNY. Specifically, the United States challenged the City’s use of Written Exams 7029 and 2043, first administered in 1999 and 2002, respectively, in its hiring process for the position of entry-level firefighter. The United States alleged that the City’s use of these examinations had an unlawful disparate impact on black and Hispanic applicants and did not adequately determine who was or was not qualified for the job of entry-level firefighter.
On July 22, 2009, Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis ruled that the City violated Title VII. The Court found that the City’s use of the written examinations had an unlawful disparate impact on black and Hispanic applicants and could not, as the law requires, be justified as job-related and consistent with business necessity.
What claims did the Plaintiffs-Intervenors bring against the City?
In September 2007, the Court allowed the Plaintiffs-Intervenors to intervene in this case. The Plaintiffs-Intervenors joined the United States’ challenge of the two written examinations based on their disparate impact on black applicants, in addition to raising their own claim that the City intentionally discriminated against black applicants through its use of these examinations.
In January 2010, Judge Garaufis found the City liable for intentional discrimination against black applicants under Title VII, as well as state and local human rights law and the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. On May 14, 2013, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling overturning the intentional discrimination finding and sending the intentional discrimination claim to a new district court judge for trial. The Second Circuit also upheld most of the remedies ordered by Judge Garaufis, including a Court Monitor to oversee the FDNY's hiring, and held that Judge Garaufis would maintain jurisdiction over financial and other remedies.
What is an “unlawful disparate impact”?
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits not only intentional discrimination, but also employment practices that appear to be fair in form but are discriminatory in operation. A facially neutral employment practice, such as a written examination, that disproportionately excludes individuals from employment opportunities on the basis of their membership in a protected group, such as a particular race or national origin, and cannot be shown to be related to job performance, violates Title VII. As the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has explained,
[An employer] can be found liable under Title VII if it uses a facially neutral practice that has the effect of disproportionately excluding members of a particular protected group. In such cases, which apply the disparate impact theory of discrimination, the individual alleging discrimination must prove ... that the challenged practice has a substantial and significant adverse effect on a protected group. If the individual can make this demonstration, the employer will be liable for discrimination unless it can show that the practice in question is job-related and consistent with business necessity. It is the employer's burden to make this showing, and a failure to provide any justification for the practice will likely result in a finding of liability. Even if an employer can demonstrate that a practice is justified, moreover, the individual will be given an opportunity to prove that there are other available practices that would also serve the employer's purposes, but with less impact on the protected group.
These facially neutral practices include the use of some written tests by employers, which have, intentionally or not, screened out people of a particular race, national origin or sex who are in fact qualified. Although using written tests to screen applicants may present the appearance of objective, merit-based selection, written tests often do not actually identify applicants who will be successful at performing a particular job. If appropriate analysis finds a test to be a poor assessment of an applicant’s ability to do a job, then the test stands in the way of identifying the best qualified candidates. As a result, it is in everyone’s interest to find a better measure.
In United States v. City of New York, Judge Garaufis found: (1) that the City’s use of two written examinations screened out black and Hispanic applicants at a significantly higher rate than white applicants; and (2) that the City’s use of these examinations did not predict which applicants would be best able to perform the job, which means that the use of these examinations was not job-related and consistent with business necessity. As a result, the Court found the City liable for disparate impact discrimination under Title VII.
Will the City change the way it selects entry-level firefighters in the future as a result of this lawsuit?
The parties worked jointly under the supervision of the Court to develop Exam 2000, a new selection procedure for entry-level firefighters. The City administered Exam 2000 to applicants for the entry-level firefighter position in March and April 2012. The Court approved the City's proposed use of Exam 2000 on September 28, 2012, and the City began hiring entry-level firefighters off of the Exam 2000 eligible list in July 2013.
In addition to the development of a new selection procedure, the Court's injunctive relief order requires the City to make additional changes to its selection process. The City must make changes to its recruitment practices and to the process it uses to screen candidates who pass the entry-level firefighter examination. A Court Monitor is overseeing the City's compliance with the order.
What kinds of individual relief may be available to remedy the City’s discrimination?
The Court ordered that individuals who were harmed by the City's discriminatory practices should receive relief including money, firefighter jobs, and/or seniority. Under the proposed Monetary Relief Consent Decree, claimants deemed eligible for relief by the Court will share in a monetary settlement for back pay, fringe benefits, and interest. In addition, claimants who were deemed eligible for priority hiring relief were entitled to pursue employment as firefighters with the FDNY. Delayed-hire claimants and priority hires also received retroactive seniority.
Who is entitled to receive individual relief?
The Court has already determined that 1,470 individuals are eligible for individual relief. The Court's determinations were based on eligibility criteria set forth in the Final Relief Order, which were designed to identify individuals who were victims of the City's discriminatory hiring practices. If you submitted a claim form, you should have received a copy of your court decision in the mail. You may also log onto your claimant portal at www.fdnylitigation.com to see the status of your claim.
Individuals eligible for relief were black and Hispanic applicants who took entry-level firefighter Exam 7029 (first administered in 1999), Exam 2043 (first administered in 2002), or both, and who also met certain other eligibility criteria. Eligible claimants included individuals who the City hired as entry-level firefighters (if their hiring was delayed due to the City's discriminatory practices), as well as those the City did not hire as entry-level firefighters. For more information, please see the Final Relief Order.
If I took Exam 6019 (first administered in 2006), am I able to receive individual relief in this lawsuit?
Please note that the Court has already finished making all eligibility determinations. If you did not submit a claim form before June 10, 2013, it is too late to submit a claim form now.
Individuals who did not take either Exam 7029 or Exam 2043 between 1999 and 2006 were not eligible to receive individual relief in this lawsuit. If you feel you were discriminated against because of your race or national origin as a result of taking one of the City's written examinations for entry-level firefighter, you should consult with an attorney (at your own expense) to determine your legal options or you can file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The Department of Justice and the Plaintiffs-Intervenors have not filed suit against the City with respect to any entry-level firefighter exams other than Written Exams 7029 and 2043.
What is the current status of the case?
On June 27, 2014, the parties filed a proposed Monetary Relief Consent Decree to settle the claims for back pay and fringe benefits lost by black and Hispanic firefighter applicants due to the City's use of the exams held to be discriminatory. The parties have agreed to settle these claims for a total of approximately $99 million. On June 30, 2014, the Court preliminarily approved the Decree and scheduled a Fairness Hearing to determine whether to finally approve the Decree and whether to approve or amend the Proposed Relief Awards List, which shows the proposed awards for back pay, fringe benefits, and interest for each of the 1,470 claimants who the Court determined are eligible to receive individual monetary relief. This Fairness Hearing will be held on October 1, 2014, at 10:00 a.m. and continue on October 2, 2014, at 10:00 a.m., if necessary, at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, New York in Courtroom 4D.
Will my information be kept confidential?
All information submitted as part of this case will be maintained and utilized in accordance with applicable federal law, including the Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. § 552a, et seq. To the extent any information submitted is protected by the Privacy Act, that information would not be used or disclosed except as permitted under the Privacy Act. No one will file your social security number in any public document.
What if I have additional questions?
If you have questions about the status of your claim for relief, please contact the Claims Administrator by toll-free telephone at (866) 297-7120, or by email at questions@FDNYlitigation.com.
If you have additional questions, you may contact the Department of Justice by emailing FDNYcase@usdoj.gov or by calling (800) 556-1950, selecting mailbox option number 7, and leaving a message with your full name, telephone number(s), and a time when you can be reached.
If you have questions regarding the Plaintiffs-Intervenors' claims, call the Plaintiffs-Intervenors at (212) 627-8100.
Please do not contact the court for information about this case. Court personnel will not be able to answer any questions about your eligibility for relief or the process of obtaining relief.
II. Claims Process Questions
What is the process for considering my claim?
The Court has made a final decision regarding the eligibility for relief of everyone who submitted a claim form. If you submitted a claim form and did not receive a Report and Recommendation from a Special Master regarding your eligibility for relief or the Court's order on the Special Master's eligibility recommendation, please log into your claimant portal through the claims administrator's website or contact the claims administrator, GCG.
If you have not submitted a claim form, the deadline to return claim forms has passed, and no additional claim forms will be considered by the Court.
Who are the Special Masters?
The Special Masters are four attorneys the Court appointed to review individual claimants' claims for relief. Everyone who submitted a claim form was assigned to a specific Special Master. The Court then reviewed the Special Masters' eligibility determinations. The Court has already made a final decision about which claimants are eligible for relief in this lawsuit.
I submitted a claim form seeking priority hiring relief. How does the proposed settlement of the back pay and fringe benefits claims affect my pursuit of priority hiring relief?
The parties' proposed settlement does not affect your claim for priority hiring relief. For example, if you have already been hired as a priority hire, this settlement does not affect your employment with the FDNY. Similarly, if the Court found you eligible for priority hiring relief and you are undergoing processing for appointment with the FDNY, your processing is not affected by this settlement. If the Court found you eligible for priority hiring relief but you previously opted not to pursue appointment with the FDNY, you are no longer entitled to pursue priority hiring relief.
If you have additional questions about the priority hiring process, you may contact the U.S.
Department of Justice via email at email@example.com or by
calling (800) 556-1950, selecting mailbox option number 7, and leaving a detailed message. Black
claimants who sought priority hiring relief may also contact Levy Ratner at (212) 627-8100.
I submitted a claim form seeking priority hiring relief, and I'm currently participating in the priority hiring process. Is it possible to delay any portion of the priority hiring process, such as the CPAT or the medical exam, or even my appointment to the FDNY Fire Academy?
Questions about the CPAT should be directed to the City's Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have questions or concerns about the medical exam contact the Fire Department's Bureau of Health Services at Fire Department of New York, Chief Medical Officer, Bureau of Health Services, Room 206, 9 Metro Tech Center, Brooklyn, NY 11201. If you have any questions or concerns about your background investigation contact your investigator or call (718) 999-2179 or send an email to CID@fdny.nyc.gov.
If you have any questions or concerns about the response you get from CID, you may contact the U.S. Department of Justice by emailing email@example.com or calling (800) 556-1950, selecting mailbox option number 7, and leaving a message.
I submitted a claim form seeking priority hiring relief. If I am successfully appointed to the FDNY Fire Academy, what will my starting salary be?
If you are ultimately hired as a priority hire and begin the FDNY Fire Academy, you will receive a higher salary, as if you had been hired from your original exam. If you took Exam 7029, you will receive the salary of someone who was hired on February 2, 2003. If you took Exam 2043, you will receive the salary of someone hired on June 11, 2006.
What additional benefits are successful priority hires entitled to as a result of this lawsuit?
If you are ultimately hired as a priority hire and begin the FDNY Fire Academy, you will receive retroactive seniority. For a definition of retroactive seniority and what it covers, please see pages 14 - 15 of the Final Relief Order. You will also receive retroactive pension benefits.
What additional benefits are eligible Delayed-Hire Claimants entitled to as a result of this lawsuit?
If you have been determined to be eligible for relief as a Delayed-Hire Claimant, you were hired after your presumptive hire date, and you still work for the FDNY, you are entitled to retroactive seniority, including retroactive pension benefits.
If I am a priority hire or a Delayed-Hire Claimant entitled to retroactive seniority, what does it mean to receive pension benefits?
If you were hired as a priority hire or if you are a Delayed-Hire Claimant who was hired after your presumptive hire date and you still work for the FDNY, you are entitled to retroactive pension benefits as part of your award of retroactive seniority. In order to receive retroactive pension benefits, you must pay pension fund contributions required by law, which will be deducted from your settlement award.
I am a Delayed-Hire Claimant. Why is my presumptive hire date different from my actual hire date?
The presumptive hire date for each exam is the median date of hire for all firefighters appointed from each exam. For Exam 7029, the median hire date was February 2, 2003, and for Exam 2043, the median hire date was June 11, 2006. The Court determined that all those hired after the median hire date would receive retroactive seniority dating back to February 2, 2003 for those who took Exam 7029 and June 11, 2006 for those who took Exam 2043. Delayed-Hire Claimants who were hired before the median hire date will not receive retroactive seniority, but they will of course not lose any seniority. In other words, those whose hires were delayed the most will receive retroactive seniority back to the median or presumptive hire date, but the presumptive hire date has no effect on your seniority if you were hired before February 3, 2003 for Exam 7029 or June 11, 2006 for Exam 2043. The presumptive hire date also has no effect on your eligibility for back pay or on back pay calculations.
How did the May 14, 2013 decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affect my claim for relief?
It did not affect your claim for relief. On May 14, 2013, the United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision on an appeal that the City filed regarding issues that do not have any impact on the availability of awards for back pay, lost fringe benefits, non-economic damages, retroactive seniority, and firefighter job offers for eligible claimants.
The Second Circuit's decision primarily dealt with Judge Garaufis's Injunctive Relief Order, and the Second Circuit affirmed the appointment of a Court Monitor and most of the other provisions of the Injunctive Relief Order. The Second Circuit reversed two findings: (1) that the City intentionally discriminated against black applicants, and (2) that former Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta was immune from being sued for intentional race discrimination. The Second Circuit determined that the intentional discrimination claims against the City and Commissioner Scoppetta must be decided at a trial. On April 28, 2014, the Court preliminarily approved an agreement entered into by the Plaintiffs-Intervenors and the City to settle the Plaintiffs-Intervenors' intentional discrimination claims, which will also be considered by the Court at a Fairness Hearing to take place on October 1-2, 2014.
The Second Circuit's decision has no effect on the relief to be awarded to claimants according to the Final Relief Order. So, eligible claimants can still expect to receive cash awards and, if they are qualified, firefighter job offers.
If the Court finds that I am not eligible for priority hiring relief but I went through the firefighter hiring process, will the FDNY still hire me as a priority hire?
No. In order to be hired as a priority hire, you must (1) be found eligible for priority hiring relief by the Court, and (2) successfully make it through the FDNY's firefighter hiring process. Only claimants who the Court determined are eligible for priority hiring relief and who pass every step in the FDNY's hiring process can be hired by the FDNY as priority hires.
If the Court determined that you are not eligible for priority hiring relief, the only way you could become an entry-level FDNY firefighter is if you applied and were hired through one of the FDNY's regular hiring processes (e.g., if you took Exam 2000 in early 2012 as part of the FDNY's open-competitive hiring process or, if you are a current FDNY EMT and took Exam 2500 in early 2012 as part of the FDNY's promotional hiring process).
Why was I allowed to go through the FDNY's firefighter hiring process if I am not eligible for priority hiring relief?
In order to be hired as a priority hire, you must (1) be found eligible for priority hiring relief by the Court, and (2) successfully make it through the FDNY's firefighter hiring process. If you were preliminarily determined by the United States to be ineligible for priority hiring relief, you were informed that you could only be hired as a priority hire if the United States was incorrect, but you were permitted to participate in the hiring process in order to preserve your claim for priority hiring relief.
Because the Court did not make its eligibility determinations until after the FDNY's hiring process began, some claimants who the Court ultimately determined were not eligible for priority hiring relief went through the FDNY's hiring process. Even if you passed every step in the FDNY's hiring process, if you were determined by the Court to be ineligible for priority hiring relief, you cannot be hired as a priority hire.
III. Compensatory Damages Questions (for black claimants only)
What are compensatory damages?
If you are a black claimant who was found eligible for relief in this case, you had the opportunity to make a claim for compensatory damages (also known as noneconomic damages) that you suffered as the result of the City's failure to hire you as a firefighter. Compensatory damages are for the following types of harm:
- Concrete emotional harm, potentially including depression, sleeplessness, anxiety, humiliation or shame;
- Inconvenience, such as being unemployed for some time or having to take a particularly inconvenient job or combination of jobs;
- No longer being able to take part in an activity or activities that they previously enjoyed before experiencing the City's discrimination;
- Damage to their personal or professional reputation that has affected their future earning capacity;
- Certain other injuries that arose from the City's denial of the firefighter job based upon a black applicant's test score.
If I did not submit a claim for compensatory damages, can I submit one now?
No. The deadline for submitting a compensatory damages claim has passed.
I did submit a compensatory damages claim. What are the next steps?
If you submitted a Compensatory Damages Claim Form, the City will be making you a monetary offer to resolve your claim. If you are represented by an attorney, the offer from the City will be sent to your attorney. These offers may not be made for several weeks, and they will be mailed as well as uploaded to your Claimant Portal. The City's offer will explain how much time you have to respond to the offer and other instructions for responding.
If you do not accept the City's offer, the City will take discovery related to your claim (meaning you will be required to provide documents to the City to support your claim for damages, and the City may question you and the other witnesses you identified, if any). You might also be required to present your case at a hearing in front of a Special Master.
If you fail to respond to the City's settlement offer and also fail to cooperate with the discovery process, the City will ask the Court to dismiss your claim for compensatory damages.
Are compensatory damages separate from any back pay award?
Yes, they are separate. Your eligibility for back pay is not affected by whether you filed a claim for compensatory damages.
Are compensatory damages separate from priority hiring relief?
Yes, they are separate. Your eligibility for priority hiring relief is not affected by whether you filed a claim for compensatory damages.
Why were Hispanic applicants not able to claim compensatory damages?
This case began with the United States Department of Justice filing a complaint against New York City, alleging that the City's use of certain firefighter exams disproportionately excluded black and Hispanic applicants from the FDNY. Compensatory damages are not available under the claims brought by the United States. The Vulcan Society - the association of black firefighters within the FDNY - and three individual applicants (called the "intervenors") later joined the case on behalf of black applicants. The intervenors joined the DOJ's original claims, and also made specific requests of their own, including compensatory damages. No group similar to the Vulcan Society joined the case on behalf of Hispanic applicants. As a result, compensatory damages are available only for black applicants.
Will I be receiving a settlement offer for my compensatory damages claim?
If you are an eligible black claimant who filed a timely claim for an award of compensatory damages, you will be receiving a settlement offer from the City to settle your compensatory damages claim only. Please note that this is NOT an offer for back pay or fringe benefits (medical expenses). You will be hearing about back pay and fringe benefits separately.
The kind of offer that the City is making is known as a "Rule 68 offer" because it is being made pursuant to Rule 68 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. You have the option of accepting or rejecting the City's settlement offer for your compensatory damages claim.
You have 14 days from the date of the offer to accept it or the offer expires. If you accept the offer, you can expect to receive payment in 60-90 days after the Court approves your settlement with the City.
If you reject the offer, you are required to respond to the City's Interrogatories and Requests For Production Of Documents within 14 days of the date of the Rule 68 offer, if you have not already done so. You will also be scheduled for a deposition in which an attorney representing the City will ask you questions about your compensatory damages claim. After the deposition, you will be scheduled for a hearing before a representative of the Court known as a "Special Master" where you will have the burden of proving the damages claimed. The Special Master will recommend to the Court whether you should receive any compensatory damages and the amount, if any, that you should receive. Both you and the City will be able to object to the Special Master's recommendation before the Court rules.
Under Rule 68, if you lose your claim, or if the amount the Court awards you is less than the City's settlement offer, you may have to pay the costs the City incurred for litigating your claim after the offer was made. You may wish to consult an attorney before accepting or rejecting the City's settlement offer.
If you are already represented by an attorney, the settlement offer will be sent to your attorney, and your attorney will contact you to discuss it.
IV. Settlement of Back Pay and Fringe Benefits Claims Questions
What is included in the proposed settlement of the back pay and fringe benefits claims?
The full text of the settlement of the back pay and fringe benefits claims is set out in the proposed Monetary Relief Consent Decree. Under the settlement, the City has agreed to pay a total of approximately $99 million for back pay, fringe benefits, and interest. The total settlement amounts for back pay, fringe benefits, and interest are divided into eight damages categories and will be distributed to individuals who submitted claim forms and who have already been found eligible for relief by the Court.
The settlement amounts are based on the Court's determination of the additional number of black and Hispanic applicants who would have been hired, or who would have been hired earlier, but for the exams held to be discriminatory. The total amount of back pay available to black claimants is higher than the total amount available to Hispanic claimants because the Court previously determined that the City's uses of Written Exams 7029 and 2043 excluded a greater number of black applicants from being hired, or from being hired earlier, as compared to Hispanic applicants.
How can I join this lawsuit and receive an award of back pay, fringe benefits, and interest from the proposed settlement?
If you are not already part of the lawsuit, it is too late to join now. To receive money from the proposed settlement, you must have submitted a claim form seeking relief before June 10, 2013, and the Court must have already decided that you are eligible for relief. No additional claim forms will be considered by the Court.
Who is eligible to receive a monetary award of back pay, fringe benefits, and interest?
Each of the 1,470 claimants whom the Court determined is eligible for relief is entitled to receive a monetary award of back pay, fringe benefits, and interest as part of the proposed settlement.
What is my damages category?
Each of the 1,470 claimants whom the Court determined is eligible for relief has been assigned to one of eight damages categories based on the following factors:
- the race identified on his or her claim form (black or Hispanic);
- the Court's determination of the exam for which the claimant is eligible for relief (Exam 7029 or Exam 2043); and
- the Court's determination of the claimant definition met (Nonhire Claimant or Delayed-Hire Claimant).
Claimants deemed eligible for relief based on both Exam 7029 and Exam 2043 have been assigned to the Exam 7029 damages category.
The total settlement amounts for back pay, fringe benefits, and interest are divided into the following eight damages categories:
- Black Exam 7029 Nonhire Claimants
- Hispanic Exam 7029 Nonhire Claimants
- Black Exam 2043 Nonhire Claimants
- Hispanic Exam 2043 Nonhire Claimants
- Black Exam 7029 Delayed-Hire Claimants
- Hispanic Exam 7029 Delayed-Hire Claimants
- Black Exam 2043 Delayed-Hire Claimants
- Hispanic Exam 2043 Delayed-Hire Claimants
How will the back pay settlement amounts be divided among Nonhire Claimants?
The back pay settlement amounts for the four Nonhire Claimant damages categories will not be divided evenly among all eligible claimants in each damages category. Based on the Court's orders, Nonhire Claimants' back pay awards were calculated according to each claimant's average annual employment earnings during the time period in which his or her back pay damages accrued, as reflected by (1) his or her earnings statement from the Social Security Administration ("SSA"); (2) any payments made by the City to him or her for unemployment insurance or worker's compensation; and/or (3) any additional earnings he or she reported from a railroad employer. If you are a Nonhire Claimant, you may view the documents used to calculate your average annual employment earnings in your claimant portal.
Actual employment earnings were not known for some Nonhire Claimants. These claimants' back pay awards were determined based on the maximum amount of average interim earnings. As a result, these claimants were awarded the minimum amount of back pay. If you are a Nonhire Claimant for whom earnings information is missing, you will be notified in the cover letter listing the amount of money you are entitled to receive.
How will the back pay settlement amounts be divided among Delayed-Hire Claimants?
The back pay settlement amounts for the four Delayed-Hire Claimant damages categories will not be divided evenly among all eligible claimants in each damages category. Delayed-Hire Claimants' back pay awards were calculated based on the number of months of delay in hiring each claimant experienced, as determined by the number of months between the first FDNY Academy class hired off of the eligible list of the exam for which he or she is eligible for relief and the FDNY Academy class to which he or she was appointed. If a claimant was appointed to the FDNY more than once, his or her delay in hiring was determined based on his or her first FDNY appointment date.
The months of delay used to calculate back pay awards for Delayed-Hire Claimants is different from the dates used to calculate Delayed-Hire Claimants' awards of retroactive seniority. As noted above, a Delayed-Hire Claimant's back pay award is based on the number of months of delay between the first FDNY Academy class hired off of the eligible list of the exam for which the claimant is eligible for relief and the FDNY Academy class to which that claimant was appointed. In contrast, the same Delayed-Hire Claimant's award of retroactive seniority is based on the claimant's presumptive hire date, which is the median date of hire for all firefighters appointed from the exam for which that claimant is eligible for relief. For Exam 7029, the first FDNY Academy class was hired on February 4, 2001, and the presumptive hire date was February 2, 2003. For Exam 2043, the first FDNY Academy class was hired on May 25, 2004, and the presumptive hire date was June 11, 2006. If you are a Delayed-Hire Claimant, your presumptive hire date has no effect on your back pay calculations.
How will the fringe benefits settlement amounts be divided among claimants?
All eligible claimants will receive a Fixed Share of the fringe benefits settlement amount, regardless of whether they submitted a Fringe Benefits Claim Form or submitted a claim form claiming no expenses. The amount of the Fixed Share depends on the damages category:
- All Exam 7029 Nonhire Claimants (regardless of race): $1,400
- All Exam 2043 Nonhire Claimants (regardless of race): $960
- All Delayed-Hire Claimants (regardless of exam/race): $50
After the Fixed Shares are paid, the remainder of the fringe benefits settlement for each damages category will be distributed proportionally to claimants in that category based on the fringe benefits expenses claimed, subject to a cap on the maximum amount of reimbursable fringe benefits expenses. Therefore, each claimant who claimed fringe benefits expenses will receive both a Fixed Share and a Claimed Expenses Share, which will reimburse them for a proportion of their claimed expenses.
What is my proposed award for back pay, fringe benefits, and interest?
If the Court already decided that you are eligible for relief, you will be entitled to money as a result of the proposed settlement. Attached to the proposed Decree is a Proposed Relief Awards List, which shows the proposed awards for back pay, fringe benefits, and interest for each of the 1,470 claimants. You will also be sent a cover letter via mail and email that informs you of your proposed award. These proposed awards will ultimately be adjusted based on how many claimants submit acceptance of individual monetary relief forms and whether the Court sustains any objection(s) to the proposed awards. Your award will be decreased by any applicable amounts required to be withheld by law, such as federal, New York State, District of Columbia, New York City, and Yonkers income taxes, child support liens, and employee pension contributions for priority hires and Delayed-Hire Claimants who have been awarded retroactive seniority. You will be responsible for paying any additional employee-side state income taxes if you live in a state other than New York or the District of Columbia.
When will I receive my monetary award?
The Court has preliminarily approved the proposed Monetary Relief Consent Decree and will hold a Fairness Hearing to determine whether to approve the terms of the settlement and whether to approve or amend the Proposed Relief Awards List. This Fairness Hearing will be held on October 1, 2014, at 10:00 a.m. and continue on October 2, 2014, at 10:00 a.m., if necessary. At or following the hearing, the Court will approve the settlement and a Final Relief Awards List. The City will be required to issue award payments to claimants no later than 150 days after the Court approves the Decree and Final Relief Awards List.
What happens now that the Court has preliminarily approved the settlement?
By July 14, 2014, GCG will mail and email to each claimant Notice Documents and a cover letter that lists the amount of money he or she is entitled to receive under the proposed settlement. The documents also give more detail about the settlement, about claimants' right to object by August 12, 2014, and about the upcoming Fairness Hearing. This Fairness Hearing will be held on October 1, 2014, at 10:00 a.m. and continue on October 2, 2014, at 10:00 a.m., if necessary, at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, New York in Courtroom 4D. Claimants have the right to attend this Fairness Hearing and to object in writing to the proposed settlement and/or to their proposed individual monetary relief award.
How do I object to the proposed settlement of the back pay and fringe benefits claims or to my proposed award?
Objecting to the settlement or to your proposed award is voluntary, but if you do not submit an Objection Form by August 12, 2014, you will not, absent good cause, be able to object in the future.
Objections must be submitted using the form located here. All Objection Forms must be filled out completely, either typed or printed clearly. You must include a description of the basis of your objection. If you have retained an attorney to assist you in this matter, you must include the name, address, phone number, and email address of your attorney. You may attach additional pages to the Objection Form, if necessary. You must include copies of any documentation supporting your Objection Form.
To submit an Objection Form, either:
- Upload your Objection Form to your claimant portal on www.FDNYlitigation.com on or before August 12, 2014,
- Email your Objection Form to questions@FDNYlitigation.com on or before August 12, 2014, or
- Mail your Objection Form so that it is postmarked by August 12, 2014, to:
United States v. City of New York
FDNY Discrimination Case
P.O. Box 9000 #6541
Merrick, NY 11566-9000