WASHINGTON (Feb. 5)
Secretary of Labor W. Willard Wirtz served notice today on United States Government contractors that job discrimination on the basis of religion is equally a violation of Government policy as discrimination on grounds of race, color or ethnic origin. A directive published in the Federal Register addressed to all Federal agencies handling questions of contract compliance reminded them that Executive Order 11246 prohibited religious discrimination in employment on Federal jobs and made the Office of Federal Contract Compliance responsible for enforcing the ban.
Secretary Wirtz’s memorandum pointed out that “although Government contractors have made progress in affording employment opportunities without regard to religion, there remains industries and companies in which some religious groups, notably Jews, and to some extent Catholics, are still excluded from positions at certain levels of responsibility. Where this appears to be the case. Government contractors are expected to identify the problems and institute appropriate affirmative actions to obtain results.”
President Morris B. Abram of the American Jewish Committee expressed gratification today over the Labor Secretary’s action and praised Mr. Wirtz who, he said. ‘has shown great sensitivity to this issue, particularly as it relates to the increasing shortage of management manpower.” The Wirtz directive was described as “the concluding step” in efforts launched two years ago by the AJC when it filed a complaint with the Secretary of Labor of discrimination against Jews and Catholics on management level.