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Chicago Police applicants sue over hiring process, allege discrimination

A group of would-be candidates for the Chicago Police academy filed a class-action lawsuit against the city on Monday, accusing city hiring officials of unfairly discriminating against them.

Daniel Herbert, an attorney for the plaintiffs, claims the city’s hiring practices unfairly disqualified some applicants who are military veterans or relatives of Chicago Police officers.

Some, including plaintiff Peter Slowik, were told they failed a psychological assessment that they had already passed when applying to their current jobs as civilian detention aides or aviation police.

Slowik, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, works as a detention aide in the city’s Lincoln District on the North Side. The suit claims that officials called him an “outstanding candidate” during his psychological interview and said he could expect to enroll in the police academy because he was on the “good list.”

He later received an email telling him that he had failed the test and was removed from the list of candidates eligible to become police officers.

Another plaintiff, Matthew Bonnstetter, said his interviewer only chatted with him for several minutes about current events after seeing in his file that he is related to a police officer.

Even though the interviewer said he had “nothing to worry about” and was “perfect,” Bonnstetter also failed.

A third plaintiff, Alexander Muniz, says hiring officials unfairly accused him of being uncooperative in a polygraph test that asked about his relatives in law enforcement.

Muniz claims that a sergeant noted his breathing was “off,” but that he cooperated the entire time and finished the test.

All three men already had passed written and physical tests and a drug screening, the suit claims. City officials have refused to tell them specifically why they failed.

Unlike other candidates booted from the eligibility list, none of the three plaintiffs was allowed to appeal the decision, and they will not be recalled to receive a “second chance” at the tests.

They claim the inconsistent handling of their cases violates the Shakman Decree governing political hiring and infringes on their rights to equal protection.

A spokesman for the city’s Law Department said officials have not yet seen the suit as of Monday evening and declined to comment on it.

The suit seeks class-action status, claiming that roughly 40 men and women “with impeccable credentials and stellar character” were unfairly disqualified, mostly during the psychological assessment, Herbert said in a release.

They are asking a judge to allow all plaintiffs to enroll in the police academy and award retroactive seniority and benefits, along with back pay plus interest and attorney’s fees.

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