AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the hiring practices of the Austin Fire Department to determine if minorities are the subject of discrimination.
The Austin American-Statesman cites (http://bit.ly/12eiGfT) a letter the city received from federal officials this week questioning whether the department is doing enough to hire Hispanics and African-Americans.
Over the years the department's minority staffing has lagged behind the demographic composition of the city. Austin officials have acknowledged an imbalance in hiring but say they've tried repeatedly to rectify it.
There are 990 sworn department personnel, including 500 firefighters. Seventy-nine percent of them are white, 15 percent Hispanic and 5 percent African-American.
Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr says the department sees the inquiry as an opportunity to highlight improvements it has made to its hiring process.