More than 100 women are getting what they say is, at long last, a fair crack at joining the ranks of the Chicago Fire Department.
Over the weekend, the city settled a 2011 discrimination lawsuit that alleged requirements of the department's old PAT, or physical abilities test, (video embedded) were "arbitrary and discriminatory," CBS Chicago reports.
The lawsuit stems from 2006 when some 140 women who applied to become firefighters were rejected after they were told they failed the PAT. Plaintiffs said the test lacked any kind of transparent scoring system.
"We have class members who are firefighters with other jurisdictions. We have class members who are triathletes, marathon runners," said attorney Susan Malone, according to ABC Chicago. "No candidates were told what the required passing score was or how to achieve it, which made their training for the test significantly harder."
According to NBC Chicago, the city has agreed to use the Candidate Physical Abilities Test, a more nationally standardized evaluation, for future physical aptitude tests.
“This is an amazing opportunity for women who were passed over for positions as firefighters because of the old test,” Marni Willenson, one of the attorneys on the suit, said in a statement according to NBC. “We are confident that women in Chicago will show that they are fully capable of performing the job of firefighter.”
A CFD spokesman acknowledged to CBS the test did have its problems and the new test will more accurately gauge an applicant's ability to do the job.
“There is not a sign on a fire that says ‘men here, women here,’" said CFD spokesman Larry Langford. "There aren’t two entrances to a fire. Everybody that goes into a fire must be able to do the job. That’s all we’re trying to do.”
Rashaunda Dooley, whose mother is a Chicago firefighter, told ABC Chicago she just wants the chance to be like her mom.
"[Mom] would come home saying what she had to do," Dooley said. "And I'm like, 'Wow, my mom's a hero. She's making a difference.'"