JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – At Tuesday night's meeting, Jacksonville City Council is expected to consider legislation that will effect promotions and new hires within the city’s fire department.
Lawmakers will review the tentative settlement reached last week in a lawsuit filed by the NAACP and the Jacksonville Brotherhood of Firefighters against the city in 2013.
The lawsuit claimed a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, saying that the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department discriminated against African-Americans in its hiring and transfer practices and created a hostile work environment for African-Americans.
After years of mediation, a tentative agreement has been reached. The city agrees that approximately one-third of hires over the next five years will be selected by qualifications, but also characteristics that would meet the goal of building a department reflective of the community.
The Brotherhood and the chief will meet every year in October and April to discuss the progress and performance of those obligations.
The agreement calls for non-certified applicants to apply for certification as firefighters and EMTs in Florida and meet the state’s standards within 18 months of their hiring. Their costs for coursework and testing will be covered by JFRD.
The city is still defending itself against a Justice Department lawsuit on the same grounds filed in 2012, and there are three other lawsuits pending by individual firefighters. This tentative agreement does not affect those other cases.
The City Council will take up the tentative agreement Tuesday night.
The fire chief, the Brotherhood and the NAACP all declined to comment on the agreement.