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Justice Seeks Modified Hiring Plans

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Washington--The Justice Department has told 51 state and local jurisdictions--including four school districts--to modify their affirmative-action hiring plans to bring them into compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision last year in Firefighters Local Union No. 1784 v. Stotts.

In that decision, the Court ruled that a bona fide seniority system may not be overridden by affirmative-action programs in employment decisions. William Bradford Reynolds, the assistant attorney general for civ-il rights, said in a letter to the Arkansas State Police--one of the jurisdictions whose policies were challenged--"In our view, the Supreme Court's decision in Stotts precludes persons who are not actual victims of discrimination from receiving preferential treatment as part of any remedial measures designed to overcome the effects of past discriminatory policies."

The Justice Department is disputing the affirmative-action policies to remedy employment-discrimination cases in the 51 jurisdictions be-cause they "can be read as granting or contemplating preferential treatment to nonvictims of discrimination," Mr. Reynolds wrote.

The districts cited are: Cobb County (Ga.) Public Schools, Euclid (Ohio) Board of Education, Garfield Heights (Ohio) School District, and the Woburn (Mass.) School Committee.

Mr. Reynolds's letter did not threaten legal action if the jurisdictions do not comply with the order, but said, "We recommend filing with the [relevant] court a joint motion to modify the consent decree to eliminate any'--" conflict between it and Stotts."--jh

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