DOJ official engaged in discriminatory hiring practices: report

[JURIST] The former acting head of the Civil Rights Division at the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] routinely discriminated against job applicants and employees [press release] who did not share his conservative political views, according to a report [text, PDF] released Tuesday. The report, dated July 2, 2008, was prepared by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) [official websites] and accuses former Civil Rights Division head Bradley Schlozman of violating federal law by engaging in discrimination and making false statements to Congress when questioned about hiring practices. According to the report:

We found that Schlozman inappropriately considered political and ideological affiliations in hiring career attorneys. Based on the results of our interviews of Civil Rights Division section chiefs and many other attorneys in the Division, we learned that Schlozman favored applicants with conservative political or ideological affiliations and disfavored applicants with civil rights or human rights experience whom he considered to be overly liberal.
The report also made several recommendations, including implementing ongoing training regarding appropriate hiring practices. DOJ Acting Director of Public Affairs Pete Carr said:
The Department agrees with the recommendations outlined in the report and has already taken steps to implement them. In addition, the Civil Rights Division has taken additional steps to update its own hiring policies and to increase the role of career employees in its hiring process. As a result of these reforms, and the procedures already in place for evaluating the work and conduct of lawyers throughout the Department, we are confident that the institutional problems identified in today’s report no longer exist and will not recur.
Schlozman, who has since left the DOJ for private practice, denies any wrongdoing.

After the initial release of the report in June, a former DOJ intern filed suit [JURIST report], alleging that he was discriminated against based on political affiliation. In July, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) [advocacy website] filed bar complaints [JURIST report] against two DOJ officials, alleging that Michael Elston and Esther Slater McDonald [bar complaints, PDF] improperly considered applicants' political affiliations when reviewing applications for DOJ jobs and summer internships. Also in July, the OIG and OPR released a report [text, PDF] concluding that department aides illegally made hiring decisions [JURIST report] based on consideration of applicants' political and ideological beliefs. Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales resigned [JURIST report] in 2007 amidst related allegations concerning the alleged firing of US Attorneys for political reasons [JURIST news archive].


 

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