Chicago taxpayers will spend $3.1 million to compensate 47 immigrants seeking to become police officers who were denied that chance because of a discriminatory rule that required applicants to have lived in the United States for the previous 10 years.
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice, now conducting a civil rights investigation of the Chicago Police Department, filed a lawsuit against the city that stems from unrelated hiring abuses that occurred as long as a decade ago.
In addition to the controversial requirement that all city employees live in Chicago, the Police Department had a “continuous residence requirement.” It mandated that all police hopefuls have lived in the U.S. for at least 10 years before becoming Chicago Police officers.
The additional requirement was imposed to facilitate background checks, officials said. It has since been cut in half — from 10 years to five.
The lawsuit was filed Friday as a procedural matter since a tentative settlement has been reached.
Both men took and passed the 2006 police exam. Both saw their applications rejected because they had lived in the United States for less than 10 straight years. Both filed charges of discrimination that were upheld by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and referred to the Justice Department.
In a choreographed action, the feds filed a lawsuit Friday, then promptly notified U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman that a settlement had been reached that called for $3.1 million in payments to 47 immigrants similarly denied the chance to become Chicago Police officers.
“Chicago, through CPD, has pursued policies and practices that discriminate against individuals born outside the United States because of their national original and that deprive or tend to deprive foreign-born individuals of employment opportunities because of their national origin,” the lawsuit states.
“Of the candidates whom CPD disqualified by applying its 10-year continuous residency requirement, 92.2 percent were foreign-born candidates and only 7.8 percent were born in the United States. Of a random sample of candidates who satisfied the 10-year residency requirement and were eligible for hire, only 7.9 percent were foreign-born and 92.1 percent were born in the United States.”
The lawsuit sought back pay, interest on the “amount of lost wages and benefits” and compensatory damages for the “pain, suffering and medical expenses” caused by the city’s discriminatory hiring practice.
The City Council’s Finance Committee is expected to sign off on the $3.1 million settlement on Monday. It’s the latest in a series of costly police settlements to burden Chicago taxpayers. Only this time, it has nothing to do with a police shooting, allegations of excessive force or police abuse. And the alleged wrongdoing predates Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
“The City of Chicago Department of Law and the Chicago Police Department worked cooperatively with the Department of Justice and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on a proposed settlement to resolve claims of employment discrimination that disqualified applicants who lived in the United States for less than 10 years from applying to become police officers,” Law Department spokesman Bill McCaffrey wrote in an emailed statement.
“These claims date back to 2006 and the policy was changed in 2011, and the proposed settlement resolves the claims of past discrimination.”