The council approved up to $250,000 for two separate firms -- one in Atlanta, the other Texas-based. Officials say those firms have special expertise in this type of litigation.
The council voted without any discussion. The decision comes after a federal agency found that minority applicants in AFD's 2012 cadet academy were discriminated against.
In a letter to the city in September, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said that a group of African-American and Hispanic applicants were discriminated against because of race or national origin. The EEOC said that as part of its investigation, for example, only one African-American candidate was hired from 736 African-American applicants.
A couple of weeks later, the city also received a letter from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). That letter also said AFD had engaged in a pattern of discrimination against African-Americans and Hispanics in its hiring practices, and the DOJ again cited that 2012 hiring process.
The firms hired will represent the city in both of those matters.
The city for years has struggled in its quest to hire minority firefighters in an industry that nationally has been predominately Caucasian and male. Austin has a goal of one day having a fire department whose workforce closely resembles the city's population make-up.