In the news story “Pittsburgh council wants UPMC to accept extra Labor Department regulation” , UPMC spokeswoman Gloria Kreps claims that critics — who are calling on UPMC to withdraw a legal challenge that threatens important civil rights laws — are mischaracterizing the issue. This is plain wrong.
Since 1965, the federal government has required all contractors to report on hiring practices and to endeavor to hire women and people of color in numbers that reflect local demographics. These rules, which are not a quota and have repeatedly been upheld legally, have had a demonstrably beneficial effect in diversifying workforces.
UPMC has tried to evade its responsibility to comply with the law after receiving a multimillion-dollar contract to treat federal workers by claiming that it is not a subcontractor. This position has been rejected at three administrative and court levels. But rather than comply with the law, UPMC is trying to undermine it, arguing that the venerable 50-year-old law is illegal and unconstitutional.
UPMC should not only be honest that it is trying to invalidate a 50-year-old pillar of civil rights protections against discrimination, but should withdraw the legal challenge to show it is not an enemy of civil rights laws.
The writer is legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania (aclupa.org).
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