Civil Service Commission Rules Three Jewish Employes of Navy Supply Office Were Bias Victims
Menu JTA Search

Civil Service Commission Rules Three Jewish Employes of Navy Supply Office Were Bias Victims

Download PDF for this date

The Jewish Community Relations Council described as of “great significance” a decision by the Board of Appeals and Review of the U.S. Civil Service Commission that three Jewish employes of the Navy Aviation Supply Office here were victims of bias in promotion practices. The case was initiated by the JCRC.

The Civil Service Commission overturned a ruling by John Chafee, Secretary of the Navy, and ordered immediate promotions for the Jewish employes at the Navy office. The case was filed as a class action for all Jews in naval buying branches but it involved three employes who claimed they had been denied promotions because they were Jewish.

Benjamin S. Loewenstein. JCRC president, said the ruling “holds great significance for future cases because it validates JCRC’s contention that statistics themselves, without evidence of overt of expressed discrimination, can prove a pattern of discrimination.” He said Nathan Agran, JCRC associate director and attorney for the complainants, was told of the decision after the Board’s ruling in Washington. Agran said that in previous cases alleging bias in hiring or promotion, evidence had to be shown of written or stated discriminatory practices.

In the Navy supply office case, the JCRC contended that statistics themselves proved a case of discrimination against Jews when they showed a failure to promote Jewish employes beyond a certain level. The JCRC contended in its brief that “willful or malicious intent should not be considered an essential element of an unlawful discriminatory practice.”

The Board said in its ruling that “the evidence of record shows that there were 65 promotions to GS-11 and GS-13 positions in the Buying Branches of the Purchase Division between 1965 and the date of the investigation of this complaint, and that, although 22 percent of the employes of these branches are Jewish, none of the employes promoted by these actions is Jewish.”


The Board also declared it had noted that “neither the naming of an individual or individuals responsible for the discrimination, nor evidence of overt prejudice or discrimination on the part of any official, is essential in a case in which a finding of discrimination is made. The complainants rank as high or higher than those selected for promotion. Also, there is no disparity between the ages of the selectees and those of the complainants which would indicate that age was a factor in these selections.”

The employes are Mrs. Jeanna Ellman of Philadelphia, a procurement agent and an employe since 1948; Milton M. Mellman of Cherry Hill. N.J., a contract negotiator and employe since 1941; and Louis Shapiro of Philadelphia, a contract negotiator and employe since 1948. The three have received Superior Achievement Awards and other citations for outstanding work.

The civil Service Appeals Board ordered the Nov. 9, 1972 Navy Department decision reversed, adding that “no corrective action is recommended for Mrs. Ellman because the record shows she had been promoted since the time the complaint was filed However, the Board recommends that Mr. Mellman and Mr. Shapiro be promoted to the next GS-13 vacancies for which they qualify.”

Agran said the legal action was aimed at only the buying branches of the purchase division of the Navy Aviation Supply Office and not “the entire compound.” He added that “this is a major case because the Civil-Service Commission’s hearing examiner found last year that a pattern of religious discrimination exists in the branches’ promotion practices. But his recommendation that three Jewish employes be promoted to the next available vacancies was reversed by the Secretary of the Navy. That was why we filed our appeal in Washington.”

The JCRC maintained there had not been a single promotion of a Jewish employe beyond GS-9 grade since 1965 although more than 50 such promotions had been made in that time and several Jewish employes has been in contention. In addition to the complainants. other employes in the Buying Branches testified that as Jews, they felt that they did not have an equal opportunity to be promoted because of the clear pattern of failure to promote qualified Jewish personnel, the JCRC said.


In Monday’s Daily Bulletin dealing with the United Jewish Appeal and Keren-Hayesod exchange program Shai Kreutner was inadvertently identified as director general of the Jewish Agency. He is the director general of the Jerusalem based Keren-Hayesod.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund