FDNY Fire Inspectors Win $29.2M Discrimination Suit

Fire inspectors face more dangerous job conditions than the higher-paid building inspectors, the suit said.

By Larry McShane

Source New York Daily News (TNS)

Hundreds of mostly minority FDNY fire inspectors won a $29.2 million dollar settlement from the city Thursday in a class action lawsuit alleging racial discrimination in their pay compared with other city agencies.

“Our fire inspectors protect the lives and property of New Yorkers every day, and this settlement is a chance to benefit and also finally acknowledge the livesaving work of those that have been harmed by the city’s pay practices,” said Oren Barzilay, president of FDNY EMS Union Local 2507.

“Hopefully these decisions will help other workers recover fair pay in the future.”

The agreement in the federal case will award each worker involved in the lawsuit between $30,000 and $35,000 after legal fees and other expenses are paid from the fund. The plaintiffs alleged an annual pay gap of $9,000 compared with city Buildings Department workers with similar jobs.

“NYC is a place of equal opportunity, and we do not support or condone discrimination of any kind within our workforce,” said a statement from the city Law Department. “This settlement brings a long standing case to a close by providing a resolution that is in the best interest of both parties.”

According to the lawsuit, more than 70% of the 400-plus union inspectors are people of color while their higher-paid counterparts in building inspections were about 50% white.

The court papers added the union inspectors faced more dangerous job conditions than the higher-paid building inspectors, with the workers assigned to issue criminal summonses and court appearance tickets.

The lawsuit initially brought by five FDNY inspectors was expanded in 2019 by Manhattan Federal Judge Analisa Torres, allowing the case to include the other members of the class action.

She noted the positions at the two agencies were so alike that city officials had twice pondered consolidating the two operations. Workers at the city departments “perform similar tasks, and the jobs require similar knowledge, skills and ability,” Torres noted.

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