NEW YORK - (AP) - A judge has halted the hiring of newfirefighters amid the legal battle over alleged discrimination atthe New York City Fire Department.

In a written decision Wednesday in federal court in Brooklyn,U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis found that an entry exam usedby the mostly white department was unfair to black and Hispanicapplicants. He ordered the city to explain why it wanted to hirenew firefighters based on an "invalid test."

Attorneys for the city said they were disappointed by theruling. They warned it would force the city to pay millions inovertimes to make up for understaffing.

The ruling follows earlier setbacks for the city in the civilrights case. The same judge found that the FDNY had deliberatelydiscriminated against minorities and ordered it to revamp itshiring practices.