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Firms to stop racial hires

Associated Press

NEW YORK – Eight employment agencies have agreed to end practices in which race was used as a criteria for screening candidates for domestic positions, state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer announced Tuesday.

He said two other agencies are being sued by his office in federal court for alleged civil rights violations.

Spitzer said in a statement that an investigation begun last December found the agencies routinely solicited racial preferences from prospective employers and used that information to keep people from being referred for certain jobs.

Some of the agencies openly noted “no blacks,” “no islanders” and “prefers Europeans” in their internal records, he said.

The eight firms, Spitzer said, have signed consent decrees in federal court that require them to stop asking applicants about their race or recording it on an application; stop soliciting race and ancestry from prospective employers and cease making job referrals based on race or ancestry.

The companies also will provide training and information to staff about anti-discrimination laws and the obligations of employment agencies, and will pay a total of $118,000 in costs and penalties for civil rights violations.

Spitzer said the eight agencies are International Domestic Agency; Best Domestic Placement Service; First Resources Agency; The Help Company; Selma Services; Soraya Services; Permay Cleaners; and the Ultimate Employment Agency.

“A fundamental principle of our society is that everyone deserves an equal opportunity to get a job,” Spitzer said. “It is totally unfair, illegal and outrageous in this day and age to disqualify a job applicant based on race or ethnic ancestry.”

Spitzer added that two other agencies that refused to sign the consent decrees are being sued by his office in federal court for alleged civil rights violations. They are the Pavilion Agency Inc. and the Quality Domestic Help Agency, located in Manhattan and Staten Island, respectively.

Clifford Greenhouse, a co-owner of the Pavilion Agency, vehemently denied any wrongdoing, saying his agency has never been cited for discrimination or any other violations by any governmental agency or the Better Business Bureau since it began operating in 1962.

“This is another political maneuver for Mr. Spitzer to further his political aspirations and trample on anyone he thinks is trample-able in order to satisfy his constituency,” he said.

A telephone message left at the Quality Domestic Help Agency was not immediately returned.

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