Attorneys for James D. Ricks filed a motion in federal court yesterday to allow Ricks to assume the presidency of the Washington Teachers Union pending resolution of last month's disputed election.

Ricks defeated 19-year incumbent president William H. Simons by only four votes, but the U.S. Labor Department, based on some of Ricks' own complaints, has decided to ask U.S. District Court Chief Judge Aubrey Robinson Jr. for permission to conduct a new election.

John Long, an attorney for Ricks, said the motion to seek Ricks' installation as president of the union was based on several factors, including a claim that a federal law says the winners of contested elections shall be considered the officeholders until the contested election is resolved.

Court papers filed Tuesday also said there is too little time left in the school year to conduct a new election and that Ricks should be the union's president through the summmer vacation. Simons yesterday had no comment on the motion.

Long said yesterday that Ricks will contest the Labor Department's effort to win a new election, arguing that he should be president because he won in spite of alleged election irregularities.

Judge Robinson threw out the union's May 1981 race last November because it was not conducted by secret ballot as required by federal law and had ordered the March 19 election.