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Carlsbad Questioned on Minority Hiring : Affirmative action: Officials want to know about city’s plan; minority hiring hasn’t matched growth.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Federal authorities are questioning Carlsbad’s efforts at affirmative action because the number of ethnic minorities employed at City Hall is not keeping pace with the city’s growth, officials acknowledged Tuesday.

Tony Gallegos, a commissioner on the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission in Washington, sent a letter to Mayor Bud Lewis requesting more information on Carlsbad’s affirmative action plan, said Ann Jensen, human resources director for the city.

During 1988 and 1989, 12% of Carlsbad’s then-479 city employees were minority members, she said. The city is only now compiling its hiring figures for this year, and she could not predict if the percentage of minorities has risen, Jensen said.

Gallegos’ Oct. 5 letter states that he reviewed annual reports filed by the city with the federal agency between from 1981 to 1987. “The review reveals a steady growth in total employment in city government,” the letter said, “but no growth in minority employment.”

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Carlsbad officials, however, stressed Tuesday that Gallegos had only expressed concern about the city’s minority hiring picture and has not launched any investigation.

“We are not under investigation,” Jensen said. “Mr. Gallegos was in Carlsbad earlier this year and met with some Hispanic groups in the city. He then sent a letter expressing some of his concerns. He has taken a very supportive role in recognizing that changing the demographics in the work force takes a certain amount of time.”

Mike Baldonado, an attorney with Gallegos’ office, said he could not comment on any matter that could be investigated by his agency.

The EEOC occasionally investigates city and county agencies on minority hiring discrepancies if complaints are received. Penalties could involve a class-action lawsuit filed by an individual or the U.S. Justice Department, he said.

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Jensen, who has held her position for little more than a year, said she cannot explain the slow growth of minority hiring in Carlsbad, adding that she has begun several minority-hiring efforts since she started with the city last September.

“I can’t address why the numbers were down before I came here,” she said. “But, in the last year, I have begun several proactive and outreach programs to attract qualified minority applicants to the city.”

In an Oct. 17 letter to Gallegos, Jensen said the commissioner’s concerns are issues “that the city is fully aware of and is clearly concerned about.”

She also said the city is updating its decade-old affirmative action plan and has spent several months reviewing its minority recruitment and selection process.

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To reach the greatest minority population, the city now advertises all of its jobs with the Veteran’s Administration, the Hispanic Hotline and other Latino publications, the Women’s Resource Center and Senior Citizens Job Development Center, as well as USA Press, a black newspaper.

Still, the city has been brought to the attention of the EEOC in recent years for its dealings with minorities.

Dorothy Porter, the EEOC district director for the Los Angeles area, which includes San Diego, said that, since 1986, the agency has investigated eight complaints filed against Carlsbad for minority hiring issues.

“Those are the ones we have closed,” she said. “I can’t comment on any open investigations.”

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She refused to divulge the results of those investigations.

Carlsbad officials claimed the city recently has been distracted by a lawsuit filed by a former personnel director, who claimed that age discrimination by the city forced him out of his job in 1988.

Jerome Pieti filed suit in U.S. District Court after his dismissal, claiming that the city’s management was trying to force him out of a job because of his age.

Last week, Pieti, 63, reached an agreement with city officials that would pay him more than $240,000 in back pay and retirement benefits--an agreement that still must be approved by the Carlsbad City Council.

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