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FDNY settles discrimination lawsuit

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

The City of New York will pay out nearly a hundred million dollars to settle a lawsuit over discrimination at the fire department.

Former Mayor Mike Bloomberg and previous fire commissioners could have been called to testify if this case had gone to trial on March 31.

It all began back in 1999 when black firefighters complained of hiring practices they felt kept them locked out of job opportunities.

"We won't see them on the stand trying to defend what's indefensible -- a fire department that's excluded blacks for 150 years," said Paul Washington, a retired FDNY captain and a past president of the Vulcan Society.

Current and former black New York City firefighters sat with their legal team and the center for constitutional rights for a major announcement Tuesday: the city will pay out $98 million to settle accusations the FDNY did not treat black applicants the same as whites with its entrance exam.

The deal provides for a chief diversity officer, a diversity advocate and an intensive recruiting effort in communities of color, back pay, fringe benefits and interest, and more.

The FDNY is about 86 percent white, 9 percent Hispanic, and 5 percent black. The claimants said that was not representative of the city's population. The 2010 us census found whites at about 33 percent, with blacks and Hispanics totaling just over 51 percent.

The current president of the Vulcan Society, John Coombs, said he is optimistic.

"This is a great opportunity to advance our department to bring much needed diversity and we're quite optimistic about the results of that," he said.

The mayor released a statement about the settlement.

"The brave men and women of the FDNY work tirelessly to keep us safe from harm's way -- and our administration is committed to ensuring every New Yorker who seeks to take on this heroic role has a fair opportunity to join the ranks," de Blasio said in the statement.

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