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ADL Protests Health Department Use of Racial Ethnic Criteria for Hiring

January 3, 1972
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith today protested the listing of what it termed, “racial and ethnic criteria” by the New York City Department of Health in a recent recruitment notice and asked that “any and all such discriminatory notices” be rescinded. While stressing the agency’s historic record of support for minority hiring, the League said it objected to the department’s notice because such listings inevitably result in “reverse discrimination.”

A recent announcement by Dr. Mary McLaughlin, city commissioner of health, stated that the department is “particularly anxious to get qualified black or Puerto Rican staff” for the following “top management positions”: Chief Epidemiologist; Public Health Director (chronic disease control); Public Health Director (infectious disease control); Public Health Director (nutrition); Public Health Director (research and development).

In response to that announcement, Milton A. Seymour, chairman of the League’s New York Board, said, “Our agency has received outraged protests from individuals who read your notice to mean (understandably so) that only blacks and Puerto Ricans need apply. We are equally appalled at the racial and ethnic criteria for these positions. It appears to us that your department has the responsibility to select only the best professionally qualified from all applicants who have the requisite credentials of education, training and experience to meet the needs of these positions.”

Stating that ADL believes the listing of such criteria (racial and ethnic preference) violates the state’s Fair Employment Practice Act, Seymour said this type of recruitment “can only result in reverse discrimination.” The board chairman stressed that the agency has always encouraged the informing of minority communities of all job openings and the judging of all applicants on their merits.

Seymour requested that Dr. McLaughlin’s department “rescind any and all such discriminatory notices or announcements and reaffirm the idea, that merit, not race, religion, or ethnic origin, will be the sole criterion for selecting employes of the Department of Health.” No Health Department spokesman was available today for comment.

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