HSPRD Pays Tribute to African-American Firefighters for Black History Month

Since our founding in 1985, HSPRD has been committed to advocating for underserved communities and representing diversity to better serve our clients.  One of the cases we take great pride in is Lewis v. City of Chicago, in which we represented a class of 6,000 African Americans who applied to work as City of Chicago firefighters but were denied employment based on a written hiring test that did not effectively evaluate whether an applicant could perform the job and disproportionately excluded African American applicants. As the district court would later find, the City of Chicago used a cutoff score on the test that was a “statistically meaningless bench-mark” and that provided no useful information regarding the relative abilities of the test passers. HSPRD’s clients eventually prevailed at trial, and the case resulted in $30,000,000 paid to class members as well as the Court-mandated hiring of 111 African American firefighters. The case required tremendous time and energy and presented great risk. At one point, the Court of Appeals dismissed the case entirely, concluding that it was filed after the statute of limitations had already passed. The United States Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, however, and reversed the Court of Appeals in a 9-0 ruling authored by Justice Scalia.

We continually strive to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in our workplace and in our community. In addition to internal policies promoting diversity, HSPRD supports organizations addressing issues of diversity within our communities, including the Illinois Coalition for Immigration and Refugee Rights, the Lawyers’ Committee For Civil Rights, the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, African American Firefighters League, MALDEF, and the DuSable Museum.

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