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ABLE Enters Settlement Agreement with City of Toledo


PRESS RELEASE: NOVEMBER 3, 2010

ABLE Enters Settlement Agreement with City of Toledo
Vacating Decades Old Consent Decree

On October 13, 2010, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. (ABLE) entered into a settlement agreement with the City of Toledo to resolve a dispute over a three-decade old Consent Decree addressing hiring practice of the Toledo Fire Department.  The settlement provides that the selection and hiring practices that had been required as part of the Consent Decree will now become institutionalized as policy within the Civil Service Commission.  The settlement also provides for the creation of the Citizens' Committee for Toledo Fire Fighter Recruitment on Outreach. The Committee will be made up of community organizations as well as fire department and city personnel and will be charged with advising the fire department on outreach and recruitment strategies to improve the number and quality of African American and Hispanic applicants. As part of the settlement agreement, the parties have agreed to allow the Court to end its oversight of the hiring and selection process by vacating the Consent Decree.

PRESS RELEASE: NOVEMBER 3, 2010

ABLE Enters Settlement Agreement with City of Toledo
Vacating Decades Old Consent Decree

On October 13, 2010, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. (ABLE) entered into a settlement agreement with the City of Toledo to resolve a dispute over a three-decade old Consent Decree addressing hiring practice of the Toledo Fire Department.  The settlement provides that the selection and hiring practices that had been required as part of the Consent Decree will now become institutionalized as policy within the Civil Service Commission.  The settlement also provides for the creation of the Citizens' Committee for Toledo Fire Fighter Recruitment on Outreach. The Committee will be made up of community organizations as well as fire department and city personnel and will be charged with advising the fire department on outreach and recruitment strategies to improve the number and quality of African American and Hispanic applicants. As part of the settlement agreement, the parties have agreed to allow the Court to end its oversight of the hiring and selection process by vacating the Consent Decree.

The Consent Decree was the result of a Complaint; Brown v. Winkle, filed in 1972 alleging discrimination in the hiring practices of what was then a highly segregated City of Toledo Fire Department.  Two years later, a Consent Decree was entered into establishing the process for the arduous task of remedying a history of segregation and denial of equal employment opportunities for African Americans and Hispanics in the fire department.  The City's compliance with the terms of the Consent Decree was challenged by ABLE in July 2010 with the filing of a motion in federal court seeking to enforce provisions of a 1995 Order requiring a continuous recruitment program.

The Consent Decree has been responsible for the diversification of the Fire Department and has provided exceptional opportunities for highly qualified minorities who, but for the provisions in the Consent Decree, may otherwise have been excluded.  "It would be hard to overstate the historic significance of this case in the City of Toledo," says Joseph R. Tafelski, executive director of ABLE.  "Without question, the case has been the driving force behind the integration of the Toledo Fire Department and has provided equal opportunities to individuals who had been historically denied access to careers in the department," states Tafelski.

Once established, the Citizens Committee will be required to meet quarterly and will have the ability to review current outreach and recruitment strategies for more effective recruitment.

The Committee will examine the City's effectiveness in recruiting minority applicants and will be able to offer strategies for education and basic-skills preparation to increase the success rate for minority applicants in the testing process.

"The key to success for this Committee will be in its ability to provide advice to the City and the Department on an ongoing basis," says Aneel L. Chablani, director of advocacy at ABLE.  "The community groups will have a seat at the table with the City and the Fire Department and will be in a position to develop meaningful recruitment strategies and to hold the City accountable so that the decades of progress in diversifying the Department are not lost," he adds.