AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ The Austin Fire Department discriminated against some minority job applicants, a federal review has found.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which looked at the department’s hiring practices since 2012, notified city officials in a letter received Monday, the Austin American-Statesman reported ( ).

City officials learned of the review in April and said they welcomed the objective oversight.

The EEOC found that some black applicants were discriminated against because of their race and some Hispanics faced discrimination due to their national origins.

“The letter does not say that the city intended to discriminate against any individual or group, but rather that the difference in pass rates between African-Americans and whites was the unintended effect of a neutral testing process,” the city contends in a news release.

Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr said in a memo Tuesday to department personnel that the city will not debate the decision. The city has decided not to hire additional personnel from the 2012 candidate list as a result of the EEOC determination, according to Kerr. So far, 96 firefighters from the list have been hired.

The Justice Department did not detail what prompted the investigation that led to the EEOC finding that nearly 40 percent of black candidates passed the cognitive written exam to become a cadet, compared with 68 percent of nonblack candidates. One black candidate was hired from the approximately 736 black applicants, according to the federal review.

Kerr, in her memo, said that 636 black candidates completed applications in 2012, not the 736 stated in the EEOC letter, and that only 328 of those candidates actually took the test. Three of those candidates were placed on the hiring list, she said.


Information from: Austin American-Statesman,