In a unanimous vote, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that black firefighters did not wait too long in suing the city of Chicago before filing a discrimination lawsuit, overturning a lower court’s decision.
The case surrounding a 1995 firefighter’s entrance exam, which drew 26,000 applicants, according to the Chicago Tribune. The city decided only to consider those with a score of 89 or above, excluding a high percentage of minority candidates.
In 2005, a federal judge in favor of the black firefighters, but the decision was reversed on appeal on the grounds that the firefighters had waited too long to file the lawsuit.
But the Supreme Court’s 9-0 ruling notes that a “new act of discrimination occurred every time the scores were used to hire firefighters between May 1996 and October 1991,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
The decision reportedly opens the door to the city being required to hire approximately 120 bypassed candidates and award $45 million in damages to 6,000 others.
“We had already won before and the city turned around and appealed,” said Annette Nance-Holt, past president of the African-American Firefighters and Paramedics League of Chicago. “We finally got a favorable ruling that’ll make the city do this. It’s a victory for the community. This is a diverse city, and we need diversity in the Fire Department.”