Commission proposed to investigate workplace bias in Boston Fire Department

Commission proposed to investigate workplace bias in Boston Fire Department

BOSTON — The Boston City Council is looking to create an independent commission to investigate claims of workplace bias, days after a report found women make up less than one percent of the Boston Fire Department and they report regular discrimination.

"How do we take the scope of an investigation and who does the investigation; all out of the political arena. Away from the council. Away from the mayor," said Boston City Council President Andrea Campbell.

Mayor Marty Walsh has proposed to create a fire cadet program to address the issues of racial and gender bias in the department. Walsh emphasized the work the city is doing on issues of diversity and inclusion.

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Campbell and Councilor Lydia Edwards said the Commission would go further to meet that goal.

"We don’t want people to be holding back. We don’t want people to be trying to protect the city at the same time while trying to be honest about the problem," Edwards said.

The proposed commission would consist of a member nominated by the mayor and the City Council president, someone nominated by the council's committee on city rights, two experts and two members of the general public.

Councilor Josh Zakim has also co-sponsored the measure.

"The independence is not only to create a better investigation but also accountability," Campbell said.

"This is really saying, however, the city council may call on an independent investigation. The Mayor may call on an independent investigation. And there are certain standards that need to be set, there are certain guidelines that need to be followed and there are certain outcomes we should expect. And a neutral body can do that," Edwards said.

Councilors said this goes beyond the Fire Department, and they have fielded complaints from other city departments.