Atlanta Fire Department Found Guilty of Cheating on Promotional Exam

February 25, 2012

Following a four-day jury trial in Fulton County Superior Court, A. Lee Parks and Larry H. Chesin of Parks, Chesin & Walbert, obtained a jury verdict today in favor of a class of firefighters in the Atlanta Fire and Rescue Department. The class action was filed to prevent the department from using the results of a promotional exam that was compromised by cheating. The jury found that the 2010 written promotional exam process for the position of fire lieutenant was infected by cheating and that by virtue of such cheating, the City violated its own Ordinances requiring a fair and impartial promotional testing process. At trial, Mr. Parks and Mr. Chesin presented evidence that high-ranking members of the Department gave certain test candidates access to the test information prior to the test, and that the City’s investigation of the cheating was woefully inadequate and incomplete. Although the City adamantly asserted that no cheating had occurred, the jurors took less than two hours to return its unanimous verdict against the City. The jury additionally found that Plaintiffs are entitled to recover their reasonable attorneys fees and expenses of litigation as a result of the City’s bad faith conduct and stubborn litigiousness. On March 8, 2012, the Court entered a permanent injunction preventing the use of the compromised test for promotional decisions. The Court ordered that all firefighters suspected of cheating should be removed from their positions and retested, but that they would be eligible for promotion, in accordance with merit system rules, if appropriate according to their new test scores. The Court further awarded that the City of Atlanta must pay attorneys fees and costs of over $320,000, the full amount requested. The case is Bennett, et al. v. The City of Atlanta (Fulton County Superior Court). For over 40 years, the lawyers at Parks, Chesin & Walbert have been holding public employers accountable for their broken promises. If you believe that your employer is not treating you fairly, or bending the rules in favor of certain favored employees, call us for a review of your case.

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