Seventy women who were rejected by the Chicago Fire Department after failing its physical abilities test in 2006 showed up to the fire academy today to retake the test after settling a discrimination lawsuit.
The city’s law department said today that though the settlement was still being finalized in court, the Chicago Fire Department agreed to change its physical abilities test to one more widely accepted in the country and allow women who previously failed the test to reapply to the academy.
More than 140 women filed a class action lawsuit against the city after failing the test in 2006, according to Rodrick Drew, a spokesman for the law department.
He did not know the exact physical requirements on the old or new test. The Chicago Fire Department declined to comment on the suit.
“The fire department has now proactively adopted the physical abilities test developed by the International Association of Firefighters, which most of the fire departments in the country use, and they will adopt and use it regardless of whether or not the settlement is approved,” Drew said.
The city council must still approve the settlement before it is made official in court, Drew said.
Susan Malone, attorney for the plaintiffs, applauded the developments.
“We think it’s fair to female and male candidates so they all know this is what you need to achieve,” Malone told ABC News affiliate WLS. “They know right away, whether you make it or not. If you didn’t make it, you’ll know why. It’s a much more transparent and fair process.”
The city of Chicago agreed, Drew said.
“Anything that helps to increase gender diversity within the department should be applauded,” he said.
There will likely be a monetary settlement for the plaintiffs, he added.