February 5, 2016 / 3:47 PM / 3 years ago

Chicago seeks $3.1 million settlement over police hiring discrimination

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The city of Chicago on Friday proposed a $3.1 million settlement to resolve a lawsuit by the U.S. government alleging the city discriminated against foreign-born police officer candidates by imposing a 10-year residency requirement.

The city council’s finance committee will review the proposed settlement when it meets on Monday, said Bill McCaffrey, spokesman for the city’s law department.

The suit was filed on Friday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and seeks damages, including lost wages, for candidates who were discriminated against and a court order to change hiring practices.

The lawsuit comes as Chicago recruits new police officers for the first time in three years at a time of heavy criticism for use of lethal force by the city’s police.. The lawsuit is separate from a Justice Department investigation into the department’s use-of-force practices.

The suit said the city and police department had “pursued policies and practices that discriminate against individuals born outside the United States because of their national origin.”

If the finance committee approves the proposed settlement, it will be voted on at the next city council meeting on Feb. 10.

The lawsuit says Masood Khan, born in India, and Glenford Flowers, born in Belize, passed the police department’s written exam in 2006 but their applications were rejected because they had not lived in the United States for 10 consecutive years as required by department policy.

The department has since changed the residency requirement to five years, according to the lawsuit.

In June 2008 the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigated the cases of Khan and Flowers and found they and others were subjected to discrimination in hiring on the basis of national origin, in violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, according to the lawsuit.

The commission referred the case to the Department of Justice after trying and failing to reach a settlement with the city.

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, employers cannot discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion sex or national origin.

The lawsuit said that Chicago has not demonstrated the residency requirement is necessary and that it has a statistically significant adverse impact on candidates born outside the country.

Reporting by Fiona Ortiz; Editing by Dan Grebler and Bill Trott

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