Fire dept. begins giving exams after settlement

November 1, 2011 (CHICAGO)

The testing comes on the heels of a court ruling that settled a massive class action lawsuit filed against the city. Thousands of African-Americans say a fire department test in 1995 was not fair and cost them jobs.

The legal battle led all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the thousands of African-Americans who took the Chicago Fire Department's entrance exam in 1995.

As part of settlement in the lawsuit, the fire department has invited nearly a 1,000 candidates from the 1995 exam to begin the process of becoming Chicago firefighters.

The first 111 candidates to pass the department's physical abilities requirements, drug tests, background checks and medical exams will get jobs with the Chicago Fire Department.

Those who do not get fire department jobs could still get money as part of the settlement.

For many applicants, the exam Monday has been a long time coming. It was 16 years ago at the United Center that they joined thousands of others to take the test. They passed all the requirements, but because of the way the exam was scored, most African-Americans were passed over for the coveted fire department jobs, in favor of white applicants.

Monday could prove to be an emotional day for all those involved.

The first round of testing was scheduled to begin at 8 a.m., but several start times will be staggered throughout the day.

All applicants, however, must be inside by 12 p.m.

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