ADL Files Complaints with Federal, State Agencies Charging Shipping Bureau with Bias
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ADL Files Complaints with Federal, State Agencies Charging Shipping Bureau with Bias

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The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith filed complaints yesterday with federal and N.Y. State agencies charging a division of the American Bureau of Shipping (consultants to the international maritime industry) with illegal discrimination against two American Jews seeking engineering posts with ABS operations in Arab countries.

According to Seymour Graubard, national chairman of the ADL, ABS Worldwide Technical Services, Inc. rejected the two engineers–Erika Wagner of Manhattan, and Leonard Messer of Elmont–under different circumstances. Ms. Wagner was turned down after she identified herself as a Jew. Messer, asked if he or any member of his family is Jewish, said “no” because he wanted the job. However, he later informed ABSTech his wife is Jewish and was told by a corporate official that this disqualified him even though she would not be accompanying him overseas. Both Mr. Wagner and Messer had answered classified advertisements for the jobs which are in Iraq and Bahrein Island.

The ADL complaints were made to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the U.S. Maritime Administration, and the New York State Division for Human Rights. They charged the ABS subsidiary with violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and Executive Order 11246, which prohibits American companies from discriminating on the basis of religion, national origin, race or sex in hiring.

The complaint to EEOC, signed by Justin J. Finger, assistant director of the ADL’s civil rights division, seeks the following: a finding of “probable cause” that ABS Worldwide Technical Services discriminated and continues to discriminate against Jews in their hiring policies; that an action be brought by EEOC to end the discriminatory practices and to obtain damages of back pay to those not employed because of them; and that, alternatively, EEOC grant ADL a right to sue letter in federal court.


The complaint to the Maritime Administration, also signed by Finger, called upon the civil rights office of the Federal agency to direct ABS Technical Services “to cease and desist all discriminatory practices affecting American Jews and to institute immediately a program of affirmative action to correct and eliminate” all vestiges of discrimination.

Graubard questioned whether the “industrial giants” associated with the American Bureau of Shipping “are aware that its subsidiary ABS World Wide Technical Services is violating U.S. law to satisfy Arab demands.”

The ABS annual report lists among those serving on its Board of Managers and Committee officials of a broad spectrum of American ship and shipbuilding companies, steel and oil corporations, insurance, underwriters, colleges, and government agencies. They include Todd Shipyards, U.S. Steel, Atlantic Mutual Insurance, Texaco, Exxon, Getty Oil, Bethlehem Steel, General Electric, General Motors, Westinghouse, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Maritime Affairs.

The League on June 10 filed complaints with EEOC charging Aramco, the world’s largest oil combine, Bendix-Siyanco of Maryland, Hospital Corporation of America, Tenn., and International Schools Services of Princeton, N.J., with accepting and complying with the anti-Jewish practices of Saudi Arabia and Dubai. These complaints are pending before EEOC which had 90 days to respond.

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