216. Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Personnel (Gershenson) to the Under Secretary of State for Management (Read)1
- Women’s Class Action Litigation
Attached is a copy of plaintiffs’ proposals on the issue of promotions, which will be discussed at your meeting with plaintiffs’ lawyers on Wednesday, January 10, at 4:30.2
The proposed remedies basically entail: (1) equalizing the percentage of promotions for women and men FSOs by cone and by grade—a de facto quota system of promotions; (2) accelerated promotions for women FSOs in classes O–4 and above to achieve percentage “parity” with their male counterparts by 12/31/81; and (3) the establishment of a separate “Hearing Panel” mechanism to review individual complaints of discrimination arising from the proposed settlement which might occur over the next five years.
Based on our preliminary review of plaintiffs’ proposals, we do not feel that we can accept any of their proposals as presented, nor do we believe that we can negotiate meaningfully on most of these issues. Our conclusions are based on several factors:
—implicit in the acceptance of plaintiffs’ plan would be our acknowledgement that we had systematically discriminated against women FSOs, a finding based principally on statistics. If we accept the validity of this line of argumentation, it could pave the way for future litigation by other groups of “statistically disadvantaged” employees.
—the attempt to achieve percentage “balance” between men and women FSOs by grade and cone through the establishment of a “quota” system of promotions will have a significant adverse impact on non-female FSOs currently in the system. We are attempting to analyze the numerical goals presented by plaintiffs to determine their impact on the promotion system if implemented. In this regard, you may wish to ask plaintiffs’ lawyers about the source and rationale for their percentage goals, since we are unable to correlate their figures with our own data.[Page 903]
—we cannot accept plaintiffs contention of a presumption of discrimination if a female FSO remains in class nine months longer than the average time-in-class of her male counterpart. Such a rationale, if accepted, would undermine the Department’s promotion system.
—while we may wish to pursue further the concept of a separate “Hearing Panel” as presented in plaintiffs’ proposal, we would not wish to accept the rigid criteria and administrative guidelines that they have outlined.
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of the Under Secretary for Management (M), 1978–1979, Box 5, Chron January 6–10, 1979. No classification marking. Drafted by Kang Huang (DGP/PC).↩
- No minutes of the meeting were found.↩
- No classification marking.↩
- This includes junior officers (grades 6, 7, and 8) because at the time the suit was filed such officers were foreign service officers. [Footnote is in the original.]↩
- Brackets in the table are in the original.↩
- An Administrator for the settlement shall be appointed by the Department who is acceptable to plaintiffs. This subject would be covered in another section of the settlement agreement. [Footnote is in the original.]↩
- Plaintiffs anticipate that a final settlement agreement will contain additional provisions concerning assignments and training. [Footnote is in the original.]↩