Ernst v. City of Chicago

Goldstein Borgen Dardarian & Ho assisted local Chicago attorneys Susan Malone, Hughes Socol, and Marni Willenson in a long running Title VII (gender discrimination) law suit pending in federal court in Chicago against the City of Chicago brought on behalf of five licensed paramedics who were denied employment as paramedics in the Chicago Fire Department because they did not pass an old fashioned physical abilities test (“PAT”) that had recently been instituted.  The pass rate on the PAT for males far exceeded the pass rate for females, effectively reducing the number of women hired into the Fire Department despite the fact that they were already working for other cities or private ambulance companies as paramedics. The first trial, in November 2014, resulted in a temporary victory for the City.

Case Update:

On September 19, 2016, the Seventh Circuit reversed, ruling in favor of the paramedics.  On the paramedics’ “disparate impact” discrimination claim, the Seventh Circuit held that the City’s Physical Abilities Test had not been properly validated to ensure that it actually measured skills needed to perform the paramedic job.  As a result, the Seventh Circuit directed that no new trial was necessary on the disparate impact claim, and that judgment should be entered in favor of the paramedics.  On the paramedics’ “disparate treatment” discrimination claim, which alleges that the City acted intentionally to exclude women, the Seventh Circuit held that key jury instruction had been improper, requiring a new trial.  The case is called Ernst v. City of Chicago, and the Seventh Circuit’s opinion is available here.

On August 8-10, 2017, Of Counsel David Borgen assisted Chicago co-counsel at the bench trial to determine the back pay and other make whole relief to be awarded the five clients.  The District Court ruled for our clients on December 21, 2018 (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 215340).  Subsequently, all remaining issues were successfully resolved awarding millions of dollars in back and front pay to our five clients and additional fees for our eight (8) years of legal work.  Three of our five original clients are now serving as Paramedics in the Chicago Fire Department with make whole seniority and right place wage relief.