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Police Applicants Sue City, Claiming Discrimination In Hiring

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A group of rejected Chicago police candidates have filed a lawsuit against the city, arguing they were unfairly barred from the force.

WBBM Newsradio's John Cody reports the group of 40 applicants for the police academy argued they were unfairly discriminated against because they came from law enforcement families, or had military backgrounds.

Police Applicants Accuse City Of Discrimination

"I believe that there is a school of thought out there where certain members of the human resource division – particularly the head of the human resources division – believes that family members of police officers and veterans of the United States military are more likely to wind up as being defendants in lawsuits," said attorney Dan Herbert.

He said he believes the city rejected qualified candidates believing their backgrounds might heighten their propensity for violence, and thus inspire lawsuits against the city.

Herbert asserted there's no reason to believe applicants from the military or police families are any more likely than others to be violent on the street.

"It's discriminatory practices on the city's part, and it's completely unfair to these fine men and women that would be outstanding police officers," he said.

Herbert filed the complaint Monday in Cook County Circuit Court, and is seeking class action status for the lawsuit.

Herbert said the city violated plaintiffs' constitutional right to equal treatment under the law, as well as the a federal court order known as the "Shakman decree," prohibiting political hiring decisions for most city and county jobs.

He said he wants the plaintiffs hired, and then boosted up to the pay grade they would be in by now if they had been hired when they first applied.

City officials said they have not reviewed the lawsuit and declined to comment.

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