Parma, NAACP Agree To Settle Discrimination Case

CLEVELAND (AP) - Lawyers for the predominantly white Cleveland suburb of Parma and the NAACP have agreed to settle a hiring discrimination case.

Parma Law Director Tim Dobeck said a tentative settlement has been reached in a 12-year-old lawsuit.

A 27-year court case involving the city was settled with the U.S. Justice Department in 1999 over alleged housing discrimination.

"Hopefully this settlement and the prior settlement will dispel the notion that Parma is a racist community," said Council President Chuck Germana. He said the label is unfair because Parma has done as much as, if not more than, other predominantly white communities to recruit black residents and job applicants.

The Plain Dealer reported Wednesday that Parma will not have to admit it has been guilty of exclusionary hiring practices. But the newspaper's sources said settlement terms would last six or fewer years and require the city to pay NAACP lawyers $295,000 in legal fees, appoint an equal opportunity officer and spend up to $10,000 a year to advertise job openings in minority publications.

The 550-person city payroll includes two blacks, a police officer and a clerical worker.

The agreement to be complete must be approved by the Parma City Council and the NAACP.

U.S. District Judge Kate O'Malley dismissed the case in 1998. O'Malley expressed belief that the city had corrected discriminatory practices.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati last August overturned O'Malley's ruling, setting the stage for a new trial.

The settlement came during pre-trial negotiations.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)