New York judge says FDNY booing of Letitia James, pro-Trump chants not about politics, ‘has to do with race’

The Vulcan Society accused the city of discrimination in a 2007 lawsuit, which the city agreed to settle for $98 million in back pay and benefits for aspiring minority firefighters in 2014. 

While the case was still ongoing in 2011, Garaufis ruled that firefighter exams intentionally discriminated against Black people, according to the Daily News. A federal appeals court later overturned that conclusion but allowed Garaufis’ proposed solutions, including the appointment of a federal monitor, to stand. 

Trump in New York courtroom
Former President Donald Trump sits in the courtroom during his civil fraud trial at New York Supreme Court on Jan. 11, 2024, in New York City. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Wilson has long lamented about a backlog of EEO complaints, which are supposed to be fully investigated within 90 days, according to city policy. 

At last month’s hearing, FDNY officials argued the department has just half the investigative attorneys on staff compared to the 2020 onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. They said EEO cases are being assigned to lawyers in other FDNY bureaus and to the Law Department while the FDNY works to hire more people to combat address the shortage. 

Judge Nicholas Garaufis. (Jesse Ward/New York Daily News/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

“You have 900 lawyers sitting doing other things in the Corporation Counsel’s office and lawyers all over the city government. Put them on detail, they already work for you, and do it. One hundred eighty days is not acceptable,” Garaufis said. “And I want the commissioner here at the next meeting.”

“I don’t know what she’s doing, but she’s not working on this. And she’s a former judge. I doubt she’d be too happy about having her orders ignored and her instructions ignored,” Garaufis added of Hinds-Radix. 

“Commissioner Kavanagh and the FDNY is committed to providing a professional work environment free of discrimination and harassment for all Department employees, which is why we continue to work with our city partners so we can effectively re-staff the EEO office,” FDNY spokesman James Long said, according to the Daily News. 

FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh apologized on behalf of department members who booed Attorney General Letitia James.  (Theodore Parisienne/New York Daily News/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

He reportedly added that FDNY top brass are “having ongoing conversations with our members about decorum during department events.”

“The FDNY takes every EEO complaint seriously, diligently investigates each complaint, and is committed to addressing the complaint backlog,” Law Department spokesman Nicholas Paolucci told the newspaper. “The court has previously expressed appreciation for the Corporation Counsel’s active engagement in finding solutions in the past, and continued to acknowledge that a lot of the city’s efforts have been done well. We’ll be updating the court on how we plan to further assist the FDNY EEO Office.”

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