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In a decision, U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis said hearings will be held to determine how much individual claimants will receive, which could lower the total amount the city will have to pay.

Garaufis ruled previously that the Fire Department of New York discriminated against minorities in its entrance exam, saying black and Hispanic applicants had disproportionately failed the written examinations and those who passed were placed disproportionately lower down the hiring lists than whites.

Of the 11,200 uniformed firefighters in the city, 9 percent are black or Hispanic. More than half the residents in the city of 8 million identify with a racial minority group.

City Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo called the opinion “erroneous” and said: “When all the proceedings have been completed, the damages, if any, that the city will have to pay will be far less than $128 million.”

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