Convinced that Buffalo's hiring practices discriminated against minorities and women, U.S. District Judge John T. Curtin ordered the city to desegregate its fire department.
Forty years later, Curtin's landmark order is coming to an end.
In a decision earlier this week, the federal judge now handling the civil rights case found the city in compliance and dissolved Curtin's 1979 order.
"This unequivocally closes all elements of the case," said Adam W. Perry, a lawyer for the city. "It is the absolute last vestiges of the litigation that started in the early 1970s."
Lawyers on both sides, in seeking an end to the civil rights case, pointed to new hiring practices that over the years resulted in a more diverse fire department.
In April of last year, the department's overall workforce was 24 percent African-American, 5.5 percent Hispanic and 5 percent female. That compares with a workforce that was 1 percent black and included no Hispanics or women in 1974.
The court’s oversight stemmed from a U.S. Department of Justice civil rights complaint against the city and Curtin’s eventual declaration that the fire department’s hiring practices were discriminatory.