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Discrimination investigation to be launched in Dearborn

The Congress of Arab American Organizations of Michigan (CAAO) has launched an investigation in response to complaints made by Arab-Americans of discriminatory hiring practices on the part of the city of Dearborn. The CAAO, together with the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and the Arab American Political Action Committee, are gathering testimony from local residents concerning their experiences with the city's hiring process.

According to the CAAO, the issue is not just about Arab-Americans. Several responses to the call for testimony have been from people of other ethnic backgrounds. The potential discrimination, it seems, is that the city of Dearborn may not be hiring its own residents.

The police and fire departments, many believe, would be best able to serve the community if they were staffed with people from it, who speak the language of the residents. The relatively high Arab-American population in Dearborn, and the corresponding paucity of such residents in city positions, is a concern.

Representatives of the city say they are more than willing to meet with the CAAO to discuss their concerns and come to a mutually agreeable resolution. As yet, however, no one from any advocacy group has contacted the city. The investigation is still very much in a fact-finding phase. No concrete evidence of discrimination has been uncovered yet.

Years ago, the mayor of Dearborn initiated an independent review of the city's Human Resources Department's hiring practices. The results of the review did not indicate the presence of hiring discrimination. In response to the suggestion that the city is intentionally discriminating against local residents, representatives simply point out that a resident of a given city is not always the person best qualified to serve it.

Source:, "Local Group to Examine Allegations of Discriminatory Hiring Practices in Dearborn," Jessica Carreras, July 19, 2012.

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