On July 19, 2011, Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian & Ho, along with Chicago attorneys Marni Willenson and Susan Malone filed a class action lawsuit against the City of Chicago challenging the “physical abilities” test that the city requires applicants to take before entering the fire academy. The pass rate on the physical abilities test is significantly lower for female firefighter applicants than for male applicants. The suit alleges that the test discriminates against women and is unlawful because it is not related to job performance or predictive of who will succeed as a firefighter. The three firms represent Samantha Vasich, who took the Chicago Fire Department’s physical abilities test in January 2010, after receiving notice from the city in November 2009 that her name had been selected from the list of qualified firefighter candidates. Vasich subsequently was informed that she failed the test. According to a recent Chicago Tribune report, there are only 116 women in the CFD, representing just over 2 percent of the department’s ranks.
GBDH, Marni Willenson and Susan Malone, on behalf of the plaintiffs, recently reached an agreement with the City of Chicago in this class action. The City will now use the Candidate Physical Ability Test, a less discriminatory test developed by the International Association of Firefighters to screen applicants. The settlement also provides for $2 million in back pay to class members who failed the discontinued test. The federal court granted preliminary approval for the class action settlement on 9/10/13. Notices will be mailed to class members on 9/24/13. The final approval hearing is scheduled for 12/15/13 in Chicago.
- Complaint PDF