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U.S. Sues to Force Indianapolis to Drop Hiring Quotas : Calls Decrees Giving Blacks, Women Preferences for Police, Fire Dept. Training Illegal

United Press International

The federal government says minority and female hiring goals for the Indianapolis Police and Fire Departments are unlawful and should be eliminated.

The Justice Department filed suit Monday seeking revision of the court-enforced consent decrees agreed to by the city in 1978 and 1979.

A city spokesman said that the departments will not drop the goals except by court order.

“We’re satisfied with the way things are now,” said John Samples, an aide to Mayor William Hudnut.

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Samples said that the hiring goals have helped bring more minority employees into the departments and have improved relations with minority communities.

Based on High Court Ruling

The Justice Department based its position on a June, 1984, Supreme Court decision in a case known as Memphis Firefighters Local Union 1784 vs. Stotts.

The controversial Memphis ruling, which upheld “last hired, first fired” policies, said that employers may not be forced by courts to scrap seniority plans that favor white men to protect affirmative action gains by minorities and women.

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“The (Indianapolis) decrees must be modified in light of the Supreme Court’s decision because the decrees grant race- and sex-based hiring preferences to persons who are not victims of unlawful employment practices,” said John Wilson, a spokesman for the department’s civil rights division.

Samples, an executive assistant to the mayor, said that the Memphis case might not apply to Indianapolis.

One decree, approved by a federal court in 1978, requires the city to fill at least 25% of its Police and Fire Department training classes with qualified black applicants.

The other decree, entered into in 1979, requires that the city appoint qualified women to at least 20% of its openings for police training classes. There was no percentage set for women applying to the Fire Department.

The Justice Department’s position is that the city should replace the quotas with an enhanced recruitment policy for women and minority groups “coupled with procedures that ensure non-discriminatory selection.”

Order Called Inequitable

The Administration has said that it is inequitable for a court to order the hiring of persons who may never have suffered job discrimination just because they are of the same race as those who did suffer discrimination.

The Justice Department has urged government agencies in many other areas, including Los Angeles, to modify their affirmative action plans or face court action.

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