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Philadelphia firefighter settlement: Black firefighters settle suit against city

Pennsylvania civil rights attorney news: City of Philadelphia reached settlement with Club Valiants Inc. and the NAACP over racist Internet postings.

06/17/2010 // West Palm Beach, FL, USA // Tara Monks // Tara Monks

Philadelphia, PA – The City of Philadelphia reached a settlement with a group of African American firefighters and the NAACP over allegations that racist Internet postings were made by white firefighters while on duty, as reported by The Philadelphia Enquirer. Upon reaching the agreement, the lawsuit was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe on Tuesday, June 15, 2010.

The claims against the city were made by Club Valiants Inc., an organization of black firefighters that combat issues of race and discrimination. The organization teamed up with the Philadelphia NAACP in November to file suit against the city and Local 22 of the International Association of Fire Fighters. The Valiants alleged that city computers were enlisted to post “racially harassing and discriminatory materials and comments” on the union’s website, along with another website used by police officers. The lawsuit claimed the postings created a hostile work environment.

As part of the settlement, the city agreed to pay $15,000 in legal fees and provide supplemental diversity training for its employees, with input from the NAACP and the Valiants. The city also agreed to “re-post” the policy against using city computers for “discriminatory purposes.”

Former President of Club Valiants, Kenneth Greene, told reporter he was pleased with the outcome, and praised the city for taking a “positive step.”

The postings that caused the lawsuit were listed on Local 22’s website and, a now out-of-service site for city police officers. The lawsuit claimed that the postings included derogatory terms including “apes” and mockery of black speech.

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