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Case 48: Pontiac, Michigan Fire Dept.
Affirmative Discrimination Ended!

Equal Opportunity NOT Equal Results
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1. Introduction and Overview
Web Posted July 27, 2006


Firefighter's suit spurred probe

Excerpt from the Detroit News
07-27-06 story by David Shepardson and Orlandar Brand-Williams

SUBHEAD:   "Pontiac worker claims a minority who did worse on a test was promoted because of quota system."

PONTIAC -- "The Justice Department's investigation into whether a city policy guaranteeing that one-third of promotions and new hires are women or minorities began after a firefighter filed a federal lawsuit last July challenging the city.

          "In his complaint, Arthur Frantz -- a Pontiac firefighter since 1986 -- said he earned the fifth-highest score on the promotional test for lieutenant in March 2002.

          "Because the top two firefighters on the promotion list were white, Frantz said he was moved down the list and a minority firefighter -- at number 12 on the list -- was moved up to the third slot and promoted, as was another minority who was No. 21 for promotion. Frantz wasn't promoted as a result.

          "Frantz, 51, said he hadn't wanted to sue the city because he was concerned about how his friends on the fire department, who are minorities, would feel.

          " 'I didn't want it to go to this,' he said.  'The city forced the lawsuit.'

          "Frantz's lawyer, James K. Fett, said white firefighters hadn't aggressively challenged the policy because they thought it was legal.  'White guys never complained. If they did, they'd be called racist,' Fett said.  'They didn't want to be alienated from their colleagues.'

          "Fett said the contract amounted to 'an illegal quota that violates Michigan and federal laws.'

          "Frantz's suit seeking more than $75,000 is still pending.

          "The Pontiac employment policy, which is part of the collective bargaining agreement since 1984, said there are two lists for hiring and promotions: one listing people in order of score on promotional exams and a "second list being the minorities, including women, in score order. Promotions are to be made from the first list, except that at least one minority will be promoted out of every three promotions," said the policy, according to the lawsuits.

          "Within the last month, the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division gave city attorney Eric Goldstein a draft of a lawsuit and a proposed consent decree -- in which the city would vow not to continue its requirement that has a quota for minority and female firefighters. The suit was filed Tuesday.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR (Detroit News):

          I am writing regarding your story 7-27-06 "Firefighter's suit spurred probe" <<link>>.

          The Pontiac Fire Department has had a racial / gender quota system in place since 1984 under the collective bargaining agreement with the union. That agreement stipulated that 1 of every 3 new hires in the department must be a woman or a minority regardless of the fact that those preferred groups may (and frequently do) have lower entrance exam scores than white male applicants.

          In that context, it should also be noted that, as with many other police and fire departments across the nation, the Pontiac FD's entrance exam has been modified numerous times since 1984 to ensure that it does not have a "disparate impact" upon racial minorities or women. All of the supposedly "trick" questions and / or irrelevant qualification requirements which might disproportionately disqualify otherwise capable racial minorities and women have long since been eliminated from the Pontiac FD entrance exam.

          Nonetheless, in 2006 -- 26 years later -- Pontiac appears to still have difficulty attracting qualified minority and women firefighters.

          Therefore, one must ask these key questions: Why does the Pontiac FD still have such difficulty attracting qualified women and minority firefighters? Why, in the face of 26 years of a "1 for 3" hiring rule which has strongly favored minority and female candidates cannot the Pontiac FD hire minorties and women in proportion to their availability in the Pontiac population?

          The answer might be as simple as this: Minorites and women just might not want to be firefighters to the same extent as whites and white males. You cannot force minorities and women to take jobs they do not want, even if extant affirmative action policies demand that they be hired in proportion to their numbers in the civilian population.

          Or the answer could be even simpler than that: Racial quotas do not work and never result in true equal opportunity. Equal opportunity can only be obtained when all persons (even white males) are treated equally under the law without regard to skin color or gender.

          The efforts of the U.S. Department of Justice in this case to bring civil rights enforcement back to "equal treatment under the law" are long overdue.

          All Michiganders should be grateful to firefighter plaintiff Arthur Frantz -- a white male who had been denied an opportunity solely because of his race and gender -- for having had the courage to stand up to the tyranny of racial quotas. Kudos also go to Frantz's attorney, Jim Fett, for his efforts which have resulted in the intervention of the U.S. Dept. of Justice in ending the denigrating, discriminatory, double standard of "racial and gender preferences" in the Pontiac Fire Department.

          I encourage all Michiganders to vote for the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative in Nov. 2006. The MCRI will protect the right of ALL Michiganders to receive equal treatment under the law.

-- Sincerely,
-- Tim Fay, Chairman
-- Adversity.Net, Inc.
 

SEE:   Sept. 28, 2006
Consent Decree
which ENDS Pontiac FD's use of racial preferences.
PDF Format.
(opens new window)

          "Civil rights attorney Miranda Massie, who represented students backing the University of Michigan Law School's affirmative action policy in its U.S. Supreme Court case, condemned the lawsuit.

          "The Bush administration has expressed extreme hostility at any measure directed at equality for minorities and women ... in that way their aggressiveness against Pontiac's affirmative action program isn't a surprise," she said. "They are going out on a limb to attack the only program that has succeeded in bringing us to a small step in equality in public employment."

          "University of Detroit Mercy Law professor Larry Dubin said the lawsuit "is not without precedence. In recent years there have been more instances of reverse discrimination being litigated in the courts."

          "Pontiac, which has severe budget problems, wants to avoid a protracted legal fight.

          "It is currently in contract negotiations with the firefighters union, Local 376 of the International Association of Firefighters, which also was named by the Justice Department in its suit.

          " 'The thrust of the (Justice Department) message is they don't like our affirmative action plan,' Goldstein said.   He said the city is open to a settlement.  'We're not interested in fighting, and we would like to move forward.'

          "Goldstein said the city has asked the Michigan Department of Civil Rights if it believes the policy is legal -- and what if any changes the city needs to make.

          "Mark Heinen, an attorney for Local 376, said the union supports ending the preferences.  'The union believes it is time to take the dual-list provisions for hire and promotions out of the contract,' he said.

          "The city also wants the provision out of the contract, Goldstein said, but insisted its goals of affirmative action are still valid.

          "Despite the affirmative action plan, the department has just one female firefighter, Fett said.  Another female firefighter is on disability.

          "The department is nearly evenly split between blacks and whites, Fett said.  The city is 48 percent black, 34 percent white and 12 percent Hispanic, according to the 2000 census.

          "John Bueno, a five-term Pontiac city councilman who is Hispanic, said the policy was needed and adopted in order to get minorities into the fire department.  'I'm hoping (the lawsuit) is not successful,' Bueno said, adding that whether the quota program is still needed remains 'to be determined.'

          "The Justice Department's lead lawyer, Carl D. Wasserman, declined to comment."

-- Excerpts from the Detroit News 07-27-06 story
by David Shepardson and Orlandar Brand-Williams
Last known link:
Detroit News July 27, 2006


Pontiac Agrees to End Hiring Quotas

Excerpts from the Detroit News
07-24-06 story by Paul Egan

PONTIAC -- "The Justice Department and the city of Pontiac have agreed that the city will end a practice designed to hire and promote more women and minorities in its Fire Department.
 

SEE:   Sept. 28, 2006
Consent Decree
which ENDS Pontiac FD's use of racial preferences.
PDF Format.
(opens new window)

          "Under the consent decree, the city will offer jobs, promotions, back pay or seniority to four white males deemed to have been unlawfully denied or delayed opportunities as a result of the policy.

          "[Supporters] say it ends a form of discrimination that was particularly obnoxious because it was practiced by government.

          "The agreement comes amid a fierce debate in Michigan over a ballot initiative that would ban such affirmative action policies.  State voters will decide in November whether to ban the use of race as a factor in university admissions and government hiring.

          "Jennifer Gratz, executive director of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative ballot proposal, said the Pontiac case shows the need for a statewide law.  'These policies have infected every single part of our lives,' Gratz said. 'The people of Michigan are fed up; they're ready to end these policies.'

          "Under Pontiac's policy, one out of every three of the department's hires and promotions was to go to a woman or a minority.

          "The Justice Department began an investigation after Pontiac firefighter Arthur Frantz filed a federal lawsuit in 2004, alleging he was passed up for promotion to lieutenant because he is white.  The case is to go to trial in September.

          " 'Art Frantz could be the poster boy for the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (ballot proposal) because everything (Pontiac) has done is what will be prohibited by that ballot initiative,' said James Fett, Frantz's lawyer.

          "The federal government sued the city and its firefighters union in 2005, alleging the practice discriminated against men and non-minorities and violated the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964.

          "Now, the city has agreed to end the practice under an order issued Thursday in Detroit by U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh.  The decree is termed provisional because it will not receive final approval before a Sept. 28 fairness hearing, at which affected people can object.

          "The case is unusual.

          "Traditionally, the Justice Department has entered into consent decrees with municipalities deemed to have discriminated against women and minorities, with affirmative action policies sometimes being part of the agreed-upon remedies, said Charles Shanor, a law professor at Emory Law School in Atlanta.

          "But in 2006, the Justice Department sued Southern Illinois University over three fellowship programs the department said discriminated against white males.

          "Shanor said Pontiac's policy may have drawn the Justice Department's ire because it is more 'hard-edged' in terms of quotas than many affirmative action policies.

          "The firefighters union supports the consent decree, said its lawyer, Mark Heinen."

-- Excerpts from the Detroit News
07-24-06 story by Paul Egan
Last known link:
Detroit News July 24, 2006
Printer friendly:
Detroit News (Printer Friendly)


Pontiac Stands Behind Affirmative Action Policy

Excerpts from the Oakland Press
07-28-05 story by Korie Wilkins

PONTIAC - "Long before the United States Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the city, citing civil rights violations, the Pontiac Fire Department and its union had been in talks to eliminate a controversial affirmative action policy from its collective bargaining agreement, officials said.

          " 'It's something that has been discussed,' said Pontiac Fire Chief Wilburt "Skip" McAdams.

 

SEE:   Sept. 28, 2006
Consent Decree
which ENDS Pontiac FD's use of racial preferences.
PDF Format.
(opens new window)

          "But city and union officials had been unable to come to an agreement on the policy, which essentially sets quotas for minority hires and promotions in the fire department.  The policy - which requires that one of three new hires or promotions be a minority or a woman - has been in the contract since 1984, McAdams said.

          "The current contract expired July 1, he said, and negotiations on a new one continue.

          "The U.S. Justice Department sued Pontiac on Tuesday [July 26, 2005], claiming the fire department's policy violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The lawsuit comes about a year after Pontiac firefighter Arthur Frantz filed a similar lawsuit after being passed over for several promotions during his 19-year career, said his attorney, James Fett.

          "Frantz, 51, is white.

          " 'This case is a slam dunk,' Fett said.  'There's no justification for what the city has done.'

          "After Frantz was passed over in 2002 for a promotion that ultimately went to a Hispanic man, Frantz filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which later cleared the way for his lawsuit filed in July 2004.  Fett said the EEOC forwarded Frantz's allegations to the Justice Department, which decided to file a separate lawsuit.

          "By being denied the 2002 promotion, Fett said, Frantz lost an 18 percent raise in his $40,000 a year salary.   'People think these types of [race/gender] quotas are OK,' Fett said.  'It's actually illegal, though.'

          "Also named in Tuesday's complaint is the International Association of Firefighters Local 376.  Attorney Mark Heinen said the union plans to be cooperative in the lawsuit.  'We do agree it is time to take the [race and gender-based policy] out of the collective bargaining agreement,' Heinen said.

          "The U.S. Justice Department, in its complaint, contends the city's policy is discriminatory toward whites and men.   It asked that the city be ordered to stop using it and compensate those who have been negatively affected by the policy.

          "In his suit, Frantz is seeking $75,000 in damages.  That case is scheduled for a mediation hearing next month [Agust 2005], Fett said.

          "Frantz also was in the news last year after being shot twice in the chest at close range in the early morning hours of April 7, 2004, behind the Pontiac Fire Department's central fire station on Pike Street.

          "The case, which remains unsolved, stunned the community.  Police and fire officials say they don't believe the shooting and Frantz's lawsuit are connected."

-- Excerpts from the Oakland Press
07-28-06 story by Korie Wilkins
Last known link:
Oakland Press July 28, 2005


Attorney for the Plaintiff:

James K. Fett
Fett & Linderman, P.C.
805 East Main
Pinckney, MI  48169
Phone: (734) 954-0100

Conctact Form: http://fettlinderman.com/contact.html


END Case 48: Pontiac, Michigan Fire Dept. Quotas End!

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*  We use the term reverse discrimination reluctantly and only because it is so widely understood.  In our opinion there really is only one kind of discrimination.