Excerpts from the ChicagoSunTimes.com:

In another in a long line of hiring discrimination rulings against the Chicago Fire Department, a federal appeals court on Monday ruled in favor of female paramedics in striking down a physical performance test used by the city to hire paramedics for over a decade.

The decision in the sex discrimination lawsuit, Ernst v. City of Chicago, overturns federal district court verdicts in 2014 and 2015 finding the city’s use of the test did not discriminate against female applicants. The fire department has been mired in litigation over racially and sexually discriminatory hiring practices for decades.

The appeals court ruling strikes down a test used by the department from 2000 to 2014. Between 2000 and 2009, nearly 1100 applicants, including 800 men and 300 women, took the test. Of those, 98 percent of the male applicants passed. The passing rate for female applicants was 60 percent, and plaintiffs in Ernst v. City of Chicago alleged this amounted to disparate impact under federal discrimination law.Judge Daniel Manion, authoring a unanimous opinion for the three-judge panel, questioned how some of the test elements, which included an arm crank machine, a timed step test, and a leg strength test, could measure any skill required of a Chicago paramedic.

While the city maintained the test was necessary, the court found a “lack of connection between real job skills” and the test, calling that “fatal to Chicago’s case.”Discrimination lawsuits against the department include the long-running Lewis v. City of Chicago, a more than 10-year-old race discrimination lawsuit which ended in a 2012 U.S. District Court injunction ordering Chicago to hire 111 African-American firefighters.In 2013 and 2014, the city settled two class-action lawsuits with women rejected for employment based on physical performance tests designed by the same developer who created the new test now struck down by the appeals court. Those settlements, Vasich v. City of Chicago and Godfrey v. City of Chicago, led to the hiring of more than 40 women as firefighters.

The plaintiffs in the case were Stacy Ernst, Irene Res, Kathy Kean, Dawn Hoard and Michelle Lahalih — all experienced paramedics.

thanks Dan

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