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Case Name Richardson v. New York EE-NY-0298
Docket / Court 1:17-cv-09447-JPO ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Case Summary
On December 1, 2017, seven Black employees of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) filed this class-action lawsuit against the City of New York in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Plaintiffs alleged racial discrimination in FDNY’s hiring, promotion, and ... read more >
On December 1, 2017, seven Black employees of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) filed this class-action lawsuit against the City of New York in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Plaintiffs alleged racial discrimination in FDNY’s hiring, promotion, and compensation practices and sought compensatory damages, in the form of back and front pay as well as lost benefits. Additionally, the employees sought attorney’s fees and costs and injunctive relief in the form of internal agency policy changes. Represented by Valli Kane & Vagnini based in New York and Mehri & Skalet based in Washington, D.C., the employees sued under 42 U.S. § 1981 and § 1983, alleging that FDNY disproportionately hires few Black people relative to other City agencies and fosters a culture of managerial discretion that leads to favoritism and harms Black candidates seeking promotions or pay raises. Additionally, the employees sued under New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) for the same alleged racial discrimination. Judge James Paul Oetken was assigned to the case. On October 29, 2018, the case was automatically referred to mediation. Only once – on May 23, 2019 – has a mediation session actually been held.

Plaintiffs sought class certification with respect to three groups: (1) Black FDNY workers who have been employed in a civilian position at any level below Department Leader and Black applicants who met the requirements listed in FDNY’s job postings yet; (2) Black FDNY workers who have been employed in a civilian position at any level below Department Leader; and (3) Black FDNY workers employed as EMS lieutenants.

On January 9, 2018, one plaintiff withdrew their claims against the defendant. This individual was the only named plaintiff representing the EMS class.

On February 11, 2018, the City moved to dismiss the FDNY employees’ complaint for failure to state a claim for which relief may be granted. On September 28, 2018, the City’s motion to dismiss was granted in part and denied in part. Judge Oetken dismissed the employees’ claims related to the EMS employees. Judge Oetken additionally dismissed the employees’ claims under § 1981 and NYCHRL related to compensation and for occurrences prior to December 1, 2014 because the three-year statute of limitations on these claims had passed. However, the City’s motion to dismiss was denied with respect to the claims relating to hiring and promotion practices within the FDNY. While the motion was considered, the Court stayed discovery, but fact discovery began shortly after, with the parties agreeing to a case management plan on November 27, 2018. Discovery ended on December 20, 2019.

Plaintiffs filed a motion in response to amend their complaint on November 13, 2018, in order to address the deficiencies in the complaint, as the Court found it. This motion was granted on April 8, 2019. The employees filed their amended complaint on April 25, 2019. The amended complaint listed eight plaintiffs – five from the original filing and three new parties. In the amended complaint, the FDNY employees supplemented their pleading with additional information regarding pay disparities that analyzed a broader range of positions with FDNY. The employees also modified the sought classes to be (a) Black employees of FDNY that made below $150,000 and were not in administrator or manager positions and (b) Black applicants who possessed the requirements for non-administrator, non-manager positions within FDNY and were rejected. Within the former class, the employees listed a further subclass of employees who worked in Professional or Management Specialist positions to whom claims of pay raise or compensation disparities applied.

The City moved for partial summary judgment on May 26, 2020, arguing that some of the class representatives had retired and thus could not seek injunctive or declaratory relief and that other plaintiffs could represent specific classes. The City additionally sought to strike claims relating to disparate impact class allegations pertaining to any policies that afforded employees within the FDNY to have discretion over hiring, promotion, or compensation decisions. On the same day, the FDNY employees moved to certify the class. As of February 11, 2021, the motions for partial summary judgment and class certification remained pending. This case is ongoing.

Matthew Feng - 02/11/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Fire
Discrimination-area
Hiring
Pay / Benefits
Promotion
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Disparate Impact
Pattern or Practice
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
Black
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1981
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) City of New York
Plaintiff Description Eight current and former Black FDNY employees on behalf of a class of similarly situated individuals
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Pending
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 12/01/2017
Case Ongoing Yes
Court Docket(s)
S.D.N.Y.
09/10/2020
1:17-cv-09447
EE-NY-0298-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
S.D.N.Y.
12/04/2017
Class Action [ECF# 4]
EE-NY-0298-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
09/28/2018
Opinion and Order [ECF# 26] (2018 WL 4682224)
EE-NY-0298-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
04/08/2019
Opinion and Order [ECF# 49]
EE-NY-0298-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
04/25/2019
Amended Complaint [ECF# 55]
EE-NY-0298-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Oetken, James Paul (S.D.N.Y.) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0298-0003 | EE-NY-0298-0004 | EE-NY-0298-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Berman, Matthew (New York) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0298-9000
Bronstein, Ezra (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0298-9000
Clemon, U. W. (Alabama) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0298-0001 | EE-NY-0298-0002
Kane, Sara W. (New York) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0298-0001 | EE-NY-0298-0002 | EE-NY-0298-9000
Lieder, Michael D. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0298-9000
Mehri, Cyrus (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0298-0001 | EE-NY-0298-0002
Nussbaum, Lauren (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0298-9000
Rich, Aisha (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0298-9000
Valli, Robert J (New York) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0298-0001 | EE-NY-0298-0002 | EE-NY-0298-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Rubinstein, Yuval (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0298-9000

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