Rep. Stan Parris (R-Va.) has asked the Justice Department to review the new D.C. Fire Department affirmative action plan "to determine whether it is consistent with the recent court rulings and current statutes restricting the use of employment quotas."
In a letter Wednesday to Attorney General Edwin Meese III, Parris said the plan, which sets strict numerical goals for the hiring and promotion of minorities and women, "will likely prove to be unconstitutional in light of relevant [U.S.] Supreme Court rulings . . . . "
The fire department plan was submitted to U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Richey as part of a consent decree to settle a 1980 lawsuit alleging discrimination in the fire department's hiring practices.
Justice believes that a 1984 Supreme Court ruling prohibited numerical goals as a remedy for discrimination, an interpretation that has not been supported by the rulings of federal judges.
Parris stated in the letter that he is concerned about the plan's promotional goals because "a number of my constituents who are D.C. fire fighters have contacted me to protest the fairness of the plan," which says that 10 of the next 33 openings for lieutenant and 17 of the next openings for captain should be filled by minorities.
Another goal is the promotion of five blacks to sergeant retroactive to 1984 because of the small number of blacks promoted to that rank from a 1982 promotion list.
In his letter, Parris called the retroactive promotions "arbitrary" and "unacceptable."
"While I support strong enforcement of antidiscrimination [laws]," Parris stated, "I do not believe that strict numerical goals such as quotas which effect immediate promotions without regard to seniority, ability, qualifications or merit are justifiable or fair."
The International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 36, the bargaining agent for D.C. firefighters, plans to file a lawsuit challenging the promotion goals, according to the local's president, Tom Tippett.